Congressional funding to help Maine mental health provider expand services

A central Maine mental health provider plans to expand its services to five clinics in the region thanks to $750,000 in federal funding included in a spending package passed by Congress over the weekend.

Kennebec Behavioral Health is expected to use the funds to support the roster of mental health services offered at its comprehensive community behavioral health clinics in Augusta, Farmington, Skowhegan, Waterville and Winthrop.

The grant is expected to help change the way patients pay for services at the agencies’ clinics, according to Tina Chapman, KBH’s senior engagement officer.

It moves it from looking at a payment perspective to a customer-centric perspective, Chapman said in an interview. It’s more of a holistic approach, so it’s based on people’s needs, rather than who pays for the service.

KBH, which also offers a variety of other mental health services and programs, has been developing its community clinic model since receiving a grant from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2021. Chapman said.

The clinics serve 6,000 to 7,000 people in central Maine each year, and many receive more than one service, Chapman said. Many people come from vulnerable populations, including veterans, LGBTQ youth and adults, released prisoners, and people with housing instability.

Mental and behavioral health services at the clinics include 24/7 crisis care, substance use disorder treatment and case management, among others.

The recent funding comes from Congressional Targeted Spending, or CDS, awards sponsored by U.S. Sen. Angus King, R-Maine.

The grant was part of a $1.2 trillion package of spending bills signed by President Biden on Saturday, just hours after the Senate approved it in a morning vote.

That’s a big deal, King said Friday in a phone call from Washington before the Senate vote. I can tell you that from meeting with people in Maine practically throughout the day, the need for expanded mental health services is at a very high level. Undoubtedly, coming out of the (COVID-19) pandemic, but more generally. Young people, adults, people with substance use disorder and trauma.

King said he has made funding mental health resources a priority and hopes to continue addressing the issue at the federal level.

What Kennebec Behavioral Health is doing could be a model, King said. I think this could be a great model for the state.

Chapman said surveys conducted six months after patients enrolled in KBH clinics show positive impacts.

Since December 2022, the agency has surveyed 1,185 people, many of whom have reported improvements in response to questions about their mental health, functioning in daily life and general well-being, according to Chapman.

It’s a really smart investment for the state of Maine and for Senator Kings’ office, Chapman said, because we can show it makes a significant difference in the lives of the people they serve.


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