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News Foundation Updates

August COVID-19 Response Update

August COVID-19 Response Update

Responding to the Behavioral Health Needs of Montanans


When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Montana in March, and stay-at-home orders were put in place, behavioral health providers faced a huge challenge: they had to quickly figure out how to continue treating patients safely at a time when meeting in person posed health risks for both patients and providers. At the same time, the loss of jobs and income, school closures, and stay-at-home orders multiplied stresses for many Montanans. This has created a behavioral health crisis, the scope of which we are only beginning to understand now. The pandemic created a need for providers to learn and adapt quickly to rapidly evolving new regulations and ways of doing business. 

To help the state, public health departments, and behavioral health providers quickly ramp up effective responses, we focused on convening discussions on key needs, helping develop strategy, identifying and helping secure new funding sources, and providing resources so that organizations on the front lines can quickly adapt and deliver critically needed services. For example: 

  • The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services received a $2 million SAMSHA grant to support behavioral health crisis services in hard-hit communities. We supported the application by working closely with the state to develop strategy, and bringing on an experienced grant writer; we’re continuing to work with the state team on implementation. 
  • We collaborated with state partners to help guide the use of emergency funds that are now supporting 43 county health departments and 8 tribal health departments for behavioral health crisis response needs. We’re supporting implementation via a crisis collaborative learning community, tip sheets, and ongoing technical assistance.  
  • We helped the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana spearhead the quick adoption and increased use of telehealth services among behavioral health providers and navigate federal legislation. You can learn more about our support here
  • We developed training webinars to help organizations working in peer support, rural health, and behavioral health navigate the state and federal changes to telehealth rules.