On Tuesday, May 31, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced a round of significant funding for mental health services in large population centers across the state.

However, unfortunately for Guilford County residents, no services in the third most populated county in the state are supported by this round of funding – while services in Mecklenburg County, Wake County and other counties do get a boost.

Guilford County implemented a new cutting-edge mental health and substance abuse treatment model and opened a behavioral health center in 2021, and – even though Guilford County commissioners and other county officials felt like the state had made a commitment to help fund that $20 million-plus project to the tune of $7 million ­– that $7 million from the state never materialized.

On May 31, however, a group of five behavioral health clinics in North Carolina were awarded funds to expand services. Awards have been made to community behavioral health provider organizations in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville and Raleigh to serve those cities and the surrounding areas.

The funding – $20 million in all – was made available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, via the Mental Health Block Grant included.

“More people in North Carolina will have better access to both the behavioral health and physical health care services they need through several behavioral health clinics across the state,” NCDHHS officials announced in the press release Tuesday.

The Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services branch of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, is awarding the $20 million to five clinics “to expand access to evidence-based, integrated behavioral and physical health care in their communities.” The money is meant to provide “comprehensive, integrated services that support individuals with Serious Mental Illness (SMI), Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED) and co-occurring SMI or SED and Substance Use Disorder.”

Those are the central issues that Guilford County’s new behavioral health center –  created in collaboration with Cone Health and Sandhills Center Mental Health Services – was set up to address.

The money will help those communities in their effort to provide:

  • 24/7 crisis intervention services
  • Outreach, screening and assessment
  • Person-centered treatment planning
  • Integrated behavioral and physical health care.

Those also are exactly the type of services Guilford County is now providing and expanding under its new mental health model.

The grant awards will fund the expansion of existing programs as well as the development of new programs.

In the meantime, some Guilford County commissioners are still holding out hope that the state may pony up the $7 million Guilford County expected to get from the state several years ago for its new behavioral health center.  Earlier this year, Chairman of the Board of Guilford County Commissioners Skip Alston said he hadn’t given up hope on the county eventually seeing some of that money.