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Mental health block grant (MHBG)

Block grants are funds the federal government gives to states for providing services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has given us a block grant for mental health. It means we can help more people — even if you’re not a Mercy Care member.

Not yet a member?

Learn about becoming a member in Mercy Care Medicaid plans or Mercy Care Advantage.

What’s covered and who benefits

What’s covered and who benefits

We can spend the MHBG funds or “pass them through” to providers that help people in the community who need covered services, like:

  • Mental health review 
  • Counseling
  • Case management
  • Skills training

Those who can take part are uninsured:

  • Adults with serious mental illness (SMI)
  • Children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) 
  • People having their first episode of psychosis (FEP)

Referrals and treatment

Referrals and treatment


For some providers, you don’t need a referral. So you can contact them directly. 

Other providers need a referral from a hospital, facility or behavioral health home. This might be an office or clinic. Sometimes your behavioral health home manages both your:

  • Behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorders) 
  • Physical health (health of your body)

We call this integrated care.


Outpatient (behavioral health home) treatment

Outpatient treatment allows people to live at home when not in treatment. They can:

  • Stay in school
  • Keep working
  • Fulfill their other personal tasks

People can attend group and/or individual therapy sessions each week. They can also meet with a mental health provider and receive medicine.

Residential treatment

Residential treatment includes live-in care in a stable setting. The treatment may last for one month to one year. Each facility has rules for residents and their families. This treatment is best for people:

  • Without stable living or work situations
  • With limited or no family support in treatment
  • With very serious disorders who haven’t been able to get and stay sober or drug-free in other treatment

Providers and resources

What is FEP?

FEP refers to someone having psychosis for the first time. It can differ from person to person. Some common symptoms are:

  • Thoughts or beliefs that are unusual or bizarre
  • Hearing or seeing things that others don’t hear or see
  • Feeling of someone watching you 
  • Changes in personality
  • Sleeping problems
  • Isolation from others

If you or someone you know is having some or all these symptoms, you’ll want to get help right away.

Studies show that early treatment can help slow down or stop the symptoms of psychosis. It can also improve recovery. Some services are:

  • Counseling
  • Support for jobs and education
  • Medicine
  • Support for families

Providers for FEP

Valleywise First Episode Clinic
480-341-7073 (after hours) 

950 E. Van Buren St. 
Avondale, AZ 85323

Who can take part: Ages 15 to 25 years with first episode of psychosis in the past year

Valleywise First Episode Clinic

Mesa Towers
1201 South Alma Road Suite 5100
Mesa, AZ 85210 

Who can take part: Ages 15 to 25 years with first episode of psychosis in the past year

La Frontera EMPACT - Pinal

2474 E. Hunt Highway Suite A100
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143 

Who can take part: Ages 15 to 30 years with first episode of psychosis in the past two years

What is SMI?

An SMI is a chronic (long-term) mental health condition. It affects or limits one or more daily activities:  

  • Eating, dressing and hygiene 
  • Taking prescribed medicine 
  • Getting around in the community 
  • Taking part in family, school or a job

What is an SMI designation (PDF)?

This is a term to describe SMI. The person is 18 years or older and:

  • Can’t live independently without good support 
  • Is at risk of serious harm to themselves or others
  • Can’t function well 
  • Is at risk for decline or getting worse without good support and services

Providers for SMI

People are assigned to a behavioral health home after SMI designation.

Outpatient providers for Maricopa County

Outpatient providers for Pinal County

  • Transition Living Center

Residential treatment providers in Pinal or Maricopa counties

*Providers who take part in assertive community treatment (ACT). This is a higher level of care that provides comprehensive local treatment to people with SMI.

What is SED?

Children with an SED have a diagnosis of a behavioral, mental or emotional condition. It affects or limits their role or function in family, school or communities. These children range from birth through age 17. 

Learn about eligibility (PDF) for individuals with SED. 

We work with many community providers to serve children with SED in outpatient or residential settings.

Providers for outpatient treatment in your behavioral health home

Parents and caregivers can contact providers directly. You don’t need a referral to choose a behavioral health home. 

Providers that can act as your behavioral health home include:

Behavioral health in schools

Need to learn more about funds for children with serious emotional disturbance (SED)? Check our page on behavioral health in schools.

Providers for residential and specialty treatment

Parents and caregivers need a referral for residential treatment. Your child’s behavioral health home will refer you to one of these providers: 

More about the MHBG

You can learn more about the MHBG

Questions? Email us. Or call 602-586-1841 or 1-800-564-5465 (TTY 711). We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Are you or someone you know in crisis?

Visit our crisis services page. Or get help right away:

Providers can order resources

Complete the online form to order educational materials about behavioral health services at no cost.