OVERVIEW: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a large and well-funded federal agency that makes hundreds of grants each year. While it supports organizations that work with all populations, it prioritizes funding for young people, military servicemen and women, and military families.
IP TAKE: Being a large and well-funded organization, competition for grants is stiff. However, some of the larger grant areas are relatively specialized, meaning that grant seekers might have a better chance securing grant funding if their organization works in a more niche area, such as tribal communities and youths in the juvenile detention system.
PROFILE: As a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has the ability to make large numbers of grants for a wide range of programs. Although the SAMHSA budget has seen cuts over the past few years, it still has billions of dollars at its disposal. It seeks to “reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental health in America’s communities” and lead “public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation.”
Grant sizes and the number of grants vary on a program-by-program basis, sometimes differing by millions of dollars even within the same program. While the large amounts of money and grants provide individual organizations with a better chance of receiving funding, grant seekers should remember that large government agencies always bring plenty of competitors to the table.
The administration currently prioritizes these initiatives:
Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness: Focuses on high-risk youth, military families, and tribal communities.
Trauma: Treating and preventing behavioral issues in the juvenile and criminal justice system.
Recovery Support: Rehabilitation of people recovering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Health Care and Systems Integration: Increased access to mental and behavioral health services.
Health Information Technology: Helps mental health providers obtain and use electronic health records.
Workforce: Strategies to increase the supply of trained mental and behavioral healthcare professionals to address the country’s mental health needs.
While these initiatives guide SAMHSA's policies and grantmaking strategy, they are not grant areas in and of themselves. The awards are broken down into broad categories of substance abuse treatment, substance abuse prevention, and mental health services. If an organization's goals align with one of the areas in the list above, however, there might be a suitable grant available.
SAMHSA makes grants through a request for applications system, giving money to only those organizations whose projects meet the administration's goals for that year. Each grant has its own page, which clearly breaks down eligibility requirements, deadlines, and the number and amount of the available grants. This information and the links provided on each page make the application process relatively streamlined and clear, removing much of the guesswork from dealing with SAMHSA.
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