Providing leadership to build a strong continuum of care. 

Mental illness and substance use disorders are common, serious problems in Montana. Behavioral health is a term that is commonly used to describe this spectrum of illnesses and the fields of healthcare that address them. In surveys of health needs carried out by Montana’s local health departments and hospitals, these issues rank as the most important health challenges in many Montana communities. Among Montana youth, more than 29% report symptoms consistent with depression, and 23.5% of high school students report binge drinking within the past month. A recent national survey examined the prevalence of behavioral health problems and corresponding access, or lack thereof, to services for treatment in each U.S. state: Montana ranked 44th worst overall and 49th for youth. A serious shortage of treatment for Montanans struggling with behavioral health disorders complicates the problem. In 2016, only 25% of Montana’s mental health professional needs were met, placing us in the bottom five of all states; 10 Montana counties had no state-approved substance use treatment program; and, Montana’s substance use treatment system met only roughly one third of the estimated need for medication-assisted therapy.

Funding Opportunities

We are currently accepting two types of grant proposals: competitive grants submitted under the 2020 Call for Proposals and invited grants submitted under our specific Behavioral Health Initiatives, which include:

Integrated Behavioral

The Meadowlark Initiative

Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment


Our Work in Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Grantees

Montana Medical Association Foundation

Improving Interoperability & Capabilities of Behavioral & Indian Health Electronic Health Systems

Project Term: 12 months; 2020-2021
Grant Amount: $100,000

In 2020, Montana will connect health providers, care coordinators, community service organizations, and other caregivers to a Statewide Health Information Exchange (HIE), which houses and shares (in a secure manner) patient data using a shared infrastructure. This grant will generate $900,000 in additional federal funding for the HIE. This project will also achieve two primary goals. First, it will support whole-person health by enabling the integration of a patient’s physical health information with behavioral health data. Second, it will develop the data interface and processes needed to incorporate Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal, and urban Indian health center (I/T/U) data from the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS) platform, an electronic health record platform used by many I/T/U providers. For this project, the Montana Medical Association Foundation (MMAF) will partner with the Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC), the Montana organization that is building the HIE. They will work collaboratively with key partners to determine successful outreach strategies and HIE technologies that meet privacy and security needs. Outreach will be conducted by project partners (including Rimrock Foundation, Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, and BSCC) with potential clinical IHS and behavioral health providers and their clinical partners. Outreach will focus on the value of HIE participation, opportunities, return on investment, clinical use cases, and available assistance to address privacy and interoperability challenges. This project will improve interoperability among all providers, including behavioral health and I/T/U providers, through the exchange of health information, and further empower patients, providers, and payers.

Saint Vincent Healthcare Foundation

Lockwood Integrated School-Based Health Center

Project Term: 24 months; 2020-2022
Grant Amount: $72,250

This project will strengthen Lockwood School’s progressive discipline and restorative practices while also strengthening the local continuum of health and behavioral health care available to students, their families, and the Lockwood community. The project will implement an integrated school-based health clinic at Lockwood Schools; the clinic will be staffed with health professionals from St. Vincent Healthcare and with behavioral health specialists employed by or interning at Lockwood Schools. Services will include screening for behavioral health concerns among primary care patients, providing brief treatment or referral for longer-term care, and aligning behavioral health care with the multi-tiered levels of support for students at Lockwood Schools. Grant funds will be used to provide key staff to the clinic, to include behavioral health specialists and nurse coordinators, and to help project leaders and partners (St. Vincent Healthcare, Lockwood Schools, and Walla Walla University-Billings) refine the clinic implementation plan and train Lockwood Schools staff in how to integrate the clinic’s services into their regular school day operations. The project’s overall goal is to improve the academic outcomes for all students at Lockwood Schools.

Montana Office of Public Instruction

School Wellness Initiative

Project Term: 24 months; 2020-2022
Grant Amount: $100,000

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) will partner with the Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) to support the implementation of a new initiative focused on school wellness. This initiative will support new partnerships between schools and high-performing health care providers (including federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, tribal health departments, and behavioral health providers) to create school-based health centers. The initiative will target roughly 70 schools with the highest concentration of students most in need of services, as judged by academic and health data (including alternative schools and those with the lowest academic performance). OPI will use grant funding to hire a new staff person dedicated to supporting the initiative. As part of this project, OPI will help enlist school participation and provide trauma-informed care training, coaching, and academic data reporting support. They will also help schools plan and implement participation in their Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) for students with behavioral issues, and identify and implement restorative discipline practices. Beyond MHCF and OPI, other partnerships that will be developed include local school districts, clinical service partners, public health, and the School-Based Health Alliance. The project’s overall goal is to improve student health and academic outcomes by providing in-school access to health care services and fostering a supportive school climate.

Sapphire Community Health, Inc

Sapphire's School Wellness Project

Project Term: 12 months; 2020-2021
Grant Amount: $50,000

Sapphire Community Health (SCH) will undergo a planning process to implement school-based health services in three school districts in Ravalli County. The school districts include Victor School (a school designated as “comprehensive”), Stevensville Alternative High School, and Hamilton Alternative School. As part of the planning process, SCH will pursue formalized relationships and collaborate with the school districts. Grant funds cover staff costs related to relationship building and planning the implementation of school-based services. Ultimately, SCH intends to use a newly acquired mobile unit to provide medical and behavioral health services to students in these rural communities and in turn, to improve students’ ability to learn and succeed in school.

Alluvion Health

Alluvion Health Vaugh Schools School Wellness Initiative

Project Term: 24 months; 2020-2022
Grant Term: $100,000

Alluvion Health will implement school-based health services, including medical, dental, and behavioral health, in Vaughn Public School. Vaughn Public School is a K-8 school located 15 miles from Great Falls. Alluvion will use a newly acquired mobile unit to provide dental services and provide medical and behavioral health services within the school. Grant funds will cover startup costs including salaries for the staff providing services. The project’s goal is to offer health services to the students and staff members of Vaughn Public School and the surrounding communities of Sun River, Fort Shaw, and Simms and in turn, to improve students’ ability to learn and succeed in school.