Date: October 26 2022


Brooke Stroyke, Office of the Governor

Jon Ebelt, Department of Public Health and Human Services

Governor Gianforte Announces $2.7 Million HEART Fund Investment to Serve 1,000 Montanans

BUTTE, Mont. – Delivering on his promise to invest in a full continuum of substance abuse prevention and treatment programs for communities, Governor Greg Gianforte today announced a $2.7 million investment in comprehensive behavioral health services in local detention centers through the HEART Fund.

“Talking with local law enforcement and treatment providers, I’ve heard repeatedly the need for better mental health and treatment services for individuals within the criminal justice system,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With this investment, we’ll fill identified gaps in our behavioral health system, while also reducing recidivism, saving taxpayer dollars, and saving lives.”

Introduced by the governor during his first week in office as a central component of his budget, the HEART Fund invests $25 million per year to provide for a full continuum of behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment programs for communities.

Through the fund, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) awarded Behavioral Health Services in Local Detention Facilities grants to Yellowstone ($536,118), Missoula ($567,253), Lewis and Clark ($580,600), Gallatin ($177,181), Butte Silver-Bow ($227,852), Cascade ($262,478) and Custer ($348,515) counties. It is estimated that the program will have capacity to serve 1,000 individuals over the next two years.

“The ability to expand behavioral health services in Butte Silver-Bow County is an excellent opportunity,” said Butte Silver-Bow Chief Executive Officer J.P. Gallagher. “To address substance use issues in our community, it’s vital we take this on comprehensively. This funding deploys another strategy to fill gaps in the overall continuum of care and we’re appreciative of the administration’s investment in our county.”

DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton said individuals with behavioral health issues are disproportionately represented in the United States justice system, including Montana’s jails.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 16% of the U.S. jail population has a serious mental illness and 68% has a substance use disorder. Detention centers remain one of the primary locations where individuals can receive critical and preventive behavioral health care services.

“Bringing these resources to clients earlier will help put these individuals on the path to recovery sooner and help facilitate a more successful community integration upon discharge,” Brereton said. “It aligns squarely with our emphasis on being proactive and serving more individuals upstream.”

Services to be offered include behavioral health therapy, certified behavioral health peer support, care coordination, medication prescription, management and monitoring, and medication for opioid use disorder. The funding must be used to address identified gaps in the community’s continuum of care and provide services to clients that have a mental health, substance use, or co-occurring disorder diagnosis. Services may be provided in person or via telehealth.

All seven awardees demonstrated a readiness and capacity to effectively implement the services, and were required to demonstrate the ability to identify and partner with local key stakeholders of behavioral health and criminal justice systems.

All sites are required to coordinate discharge planning for individuals to ensure continuity of care. Several communities are utilizing care coordinators that will provide follow-up services to individuals for up to six months after their release to ensure they have continued support.

All services are voluntary. Individuals will be enrolled in services through a variety of means, including initial screening when entering the jail that will indicate need for behavioral health services; referral from correctional staff that believe an individual will benefit from behavioral health services; and self-referral from an individual seeking services. All services will be based on a clinical assessment to ensure services meet the needs of individuals.