​Community Mental Health Services Block Grant

Summary and Purpose

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) provides grant funds to establish or expand an organized community-based system of care for providing non-Title XIX mental health services to children with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and adults with serious mental illness (SMI).  States are required to submit an application for each fiscal year the State is seeking funds.  These funds are used to: (1) carry out the State plan contained in the application; (2) evaluate programs and services, and; (3) conduct planning, administration, and educational activities related to the provision of services. Much of the MHBG-funded services in California are provided to individuals that otherwise may not have public or private health insurance.

DHCS distributes MHBG funding to participating county mental health departments and encourages counties to implement innovative programs and services that may not be funded by typical mainstream mental health programs.  Counties are allowed full flexibility (within the limits of allowable activity requirements) to fund programs that provide maximum impact and positive outcomes to their residents.  MHBG funds support over 150 unique programs in California.

Source of Funds   

The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant is funded through the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). CMHS is one of three centers within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The California State Department Health Care Services (DHCS) administers the block grant and allocates the funds each year to the 58 local county mental health plans (MHPs). The MHPs and their contracted providers deliver a broad array of treatment and support services that include over 150 individual programs supported by the block grant.

MHBG Report

In order to receive the formula allocation, each county is required to submit an annual application or expenditure plan that includes a narrative detailing their intended use of the funds. In addition, the county application must include a Federal Grant Detailed Provider Budget for each program, and signed assurances accepting the Block grant funds under the conditions established by governing federal and State laws, regulations and guidelines, as well as specific conditions included in their county application.

Each county must provide financial reporting on a quarterly basis and also an annual cost report. Additionally, counties are required to submit a one-page data sheet for each program funded with the block grant. That data sheet is used to provide information to the federal government as part of the State Plan.

Peer Review

Federal statute requires independent peer reviews to assess quality, appropriateness, and efficacy of services utilizing Block Grant funding.  The former Department of Mental Health entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the California Mental Health Planning Council to conduct the reviews.  No fewer than 5% of counties will be reviewed annually.

Public Comment Process

Under the authority of the Public Health Service Act, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), awards block grants to states to establish or expand an organized community-based system for providing mental health services for adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbances.  States are required to submit bi-annual applications and an annual plan update for MHBG funding.  The funds awarded are to be used to carry out the State Plan contained in the application, to evaluate programs and services set in place under the Plan, and to conduct planning, administration and educational activities related to the provision of services under the Plan.

The State Plan: A Description of the State Service System

  1. Identification and analysis of the service system's strengths, needs and priorities; and
  2. Performance goals and action plans to improve the service system

Block Grant legislation stipulates that as a condition of the funding agreement for the grant, State's will provide opportunity for the public to comment on the State Plan.  States will make the Plan public in such a manner to facilitate comment from any person (including Federal or other public agency) during the development of the Plan (including any revisions) and after the submission of the Plan to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

A request of approval of a modification to the Plan may be made at any time during the year.  Comments on the Plan may be made at any time during the year.  Comments will be considered in any modification or formulation of the Bi-Annual Plan.

DHCS submits the annual FFY MHBG Report to SAMHSA to report progress on identified goals in the State Plan, and report state agency expenditures projected in the biennial MHBG Application.

To access California's current, approved MHBG Report, or a prior FFY Application Report, visit SAMHSA's Web-based Grant Application System (WebBGAS); Username: citizenca; Password: citizen. Once you have logged in click on "View an Existing Application."

To receive an electronic version of the most current MHBG Bi-Annual Plan, send your request to: mhbg@dhcs.ca.gov.

You may forward any comments on the Plan to Email Address: mhbg@dhcs.ca.gov.

Fiscal Forms

Quarterly: Report forms:

For current versions of the DHCS 1784QTR Quarterly Financial Status Report form and DHCS 1785QTR Quarterly Grant Cash Transaction Report, please send an email to: mhbg@dhcs.ca.gov.

Year-End Report forms:

To request current versions of the cost report guidance and enclosures, please send an email to: mhbg@dhcs.ca.gov.

  • MHBG Letter YE Cost Report Guidance
  • DHCS 1784 YE Financial Status Report
  • DHCS 1785 YE Grant Cash Transaction Report                                     
  • DHCS 1767 YE Federal Grant Expenditure Report
  • DHCS 1767-S YE Federal Grant Expenditure Report Summary

MHBG Resources​

Country Contact List​​​                        

MHBG Application                             

MHBG FAQs                                 

I'​m Seeking Help                                

​Contact Us

For questions regarding the MHBG Grant, email MHBG@dhcs.ca.gov.

If you think you are having an emergency for an unexpected medical condition, including a psychiatric emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Last modified date: 9/15/2021 10:51 AM