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Our Work Behavioral Health

Providing leadership to help Montana’s behavioral health system build a strong continuum of care

We work to prevent mental illness and substance use disorders and ensure prompt early diagnosis and effective treatment for people affected by these illnesses. Access to prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery services is critical to improving the health and well-being of Montanans.

Addressing behavioral health issues, like mental illness and substance use disorders, is a top priority for Montana communities. In surveys of health needs carried out by Montana’s local health departments and hospitals, behavioral health issues rank as the most important health challenges in many Montana communities.

Historically, there has been a severe shortage of prevention specialty treatment options, especially in remote rural areas. The statistics that show how the lack of prevention and treatment options has impacted Montanans are grim: Montana consistently has among the highest rates of mortality due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide in the nation.

  • Between 2007 and 2018, drug overdoses were the fourth leading cause of injury-related death, accounting for over 1,400 lives lost in the state.
  • In 2019, nearly 80% of substance use-related emergency medical service calls involved alcohol (the most commonly used substance).
  • In 2020, alcohol-related deaths surged, accounting for over 260 deaths – the most in the last 20 years.
  • 250 Montanans take their own lives annually. 42% of suicide victims had alcohol in their systems.
  • In 2019, one-in-ten high school students reported a suicide attempt in the previous year.

We work to increase access to effective prevention programs and early diagnosis and treatment through this priority area and our strategic initiatives which focus on strengthening the behavioral health system and integrating behavioral health services into primary care.

We funded 226 grants and contracts with $13.7 million.

We leveraged our resources to help secure $38.6 million in federal and private grants.


The initiatives we developed as part of our work in behavioral health include:


Need assistance?

Siri Eliasen
Program Assistant