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Is your organization adequately addressing the needs of people experiencing their first episode of serious mental illness?

The Fiscal Year 2014 SAMHSA appropriation (part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014) includes a new requirement within the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) that “States shall expend at least five percent of the amount each receives… to support evidence-based programs that address the needs of individuals with early serious mental illness, including psychotic disorders, regardless of the age of the individual at onset.”

The set aside is intended to stimulate state programming to better identify and more adequately respond to individuals who are experiencing their first episode of serious mental illness. Earlier and more assertive responses to these individuals are intended to help reduce the disability that these individuals may experience and to assist them in pursuing their life goals with appropriate treatment and support.

Often persons receiving care, especially from public systems, are required to meet criteria for serious and persistent mental illnesses to access care. Individuals meeting these criteria generally have significant, long-term disabilities. While delivering services for persons with serious and disabling illnesses continues to be an important role for state mental health systems, the development of responsive programming to first episode consumers may eventually reduce the rates at which they become disabled, benefitting both the client and the treatment system.

To support states in implementing the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) set aside, SAMHSA contracted with NRI and NASMHPD to partner with experts in the field to develop a series of technical assistance resources:


NRI and NASMHPD also developed a series of informational webinars about the development and implementation of first episode psychosis and early intervention programs (note: links below direct to external websites):

If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can implement its mental health block grant (MHBG) set aside most appropriately, please contact [email protected].