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

Flathead City-County Health Department

Developing a Plan to Transform the Behavioral Health System through Mapping

Grant Amount: $25,000
Dates: 2020-2021

The Flathead City-County Health Department will map the behavioral health system in Flathead County to identify specific treatment needs. As part of this project, a modified sequential intercept mapping (SIM) process will be used with a multidisciplinary team including experts in mental health, substance use disorders, law enforcement, housing, health, social services, and individuals directly impacted by mental health disorders. Grant funds will be used for project staff salaries and consultant fees for the mapping process. Partnerships for this project include Kalispell Regional Healthcare and the Flathead Community Health Center. Additional partners will also be invited to participate in the mapping process, including Sunburst Mental Health, Western Montana Mental Health, and law enforcement. The project’s overall goal is to map the behavioral health system in Flathead County to identify resources within the community, gaps in services, and the development of a community plan for improvement.


Strategic Planning to Expand Youth Development to Rural & Tribal Communities in Montana

Project Term: 12 months; 2019-2020
Grant Amount: $25,000

EmpowerMT will build youth leadership and promote trauma-informed, culturally relevant after school programs for middle and high school youth. They will do this by evaluating the outcomes of their current programs and completing a strategic planning process for expanding services to better meet the needs of rural and tribal schools in northwestern Montana. EmpowerMT’s current program promotes positive social-emotional learning (SEL) outcomes to support behavioral health in the youth they serve. Funding will be used to contract for program evaluation services and staff time to carry out the evaluation and strategic planning processes. Staff will also identify and evaluate SEL curriculums that have been shown to improve behavioral health outcomes in middle school and high school youth. EmpowerMT currently partners with schools in Missoula, Ronan, and Whitefish and will expand partnerships with schools in Thompson Falls and Hot Springs, as well as other schools in northwestern Montana. They will also work with the University of Montana, the Salish Kootenai Tribal College, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Education Department, and local Indian education for all parent advisory boards. The overall goal of this project is to evaluate and improve EmpowerMT’s SEL programs and services to better serve rural and tribal schools and improve the behavioral health outcomes of youth.

Jefferson County Mental Health Local Advisory Council

Support Our Youth Through Positive Parenting

Project Term: 12 months; 2019-2020
Grant Amount: $11,642

Through this project, the Jefferson County Mental Health Local Advisory Council will partner with the Jefferson County Health Department to deliver positive parenting classes to the residents of Jefferson County. This project stems from the identification of behavioral health as a top health concern in Jefferson County’s community health assessment. To take an upstream approach to improving behavioral health in the county, the health department and school nurse will use the state health department’s online parenting program, Parenting Montana, and a parenting curriculum known as “positive parenting” to encourage parenting practices that support the healthy child development. Grant funds will be used to purchase training materials and support program staff time to deliver the training and to work with community partners to identify good venues for program delivery. Partners involved in this project include the local advisory committee, county health department, local library, school nurse, elementary school, and Head Start. The overarching goal of this project is to establish healthy parenting practices that will support both parents and children and prevent behavioral health issues.

Montana Generational Justice Foundation

Estate Planning to Prevent Health Care Exploitation and Fraud

Project Term: 12 months; 2018-2019
Grant Amount: $30,000

This project will assist rural Montanans in addressing legal considerations related to incapacitating illnesses and end-of-life care. The project will help participants complete a durable power of attorney for health care, medical advanced directives, and living will which will provide directions to guide health care choices if they are unable to do so themselves. This project will also help individuals appropriately plan for and respond to immediate and long-term medical concerns, protect their assets from exploitation and fraud, assist in avoiding probate, and enable participants to minimize avoidable risk and confusion through assisting with estate planning. Services will be provided to one community as a pilot site and a business plan for sustainability will be developed through the course of the project. 

Glacier Community Health Center

Dental and Behavioral Health Integration

Project Term: 12 months; 2018-2019
Grant Amount: $49,729

To date, Glacier Community Health Center has successfully linked behavioral health with medical, providing bidirectional warm hand-offs of patients who need the alternate department’s services, and thus improving patient care and health outcomes. This project will focus on a similar integration between behavioral health and dental with the addition of medical, with the knowledge that dental, medical and behavioral health diagnoses are often linked, and common solutions can often be found. Funds for this project will be used for staff time to work through the needed policies, procedures, and workflow for the integration of dental and behavioral health services.