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The state announced Monday it will offer $33 million in grant money to behavioral health providers around the state who have taken financial hits related to COVID-19.

The creation of the grant program comes as local providers are seeing an increase in need for behavioral health services. The money was made available to the state through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Sheila Hogan, director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, said in a news release that although there’s been an increase in services provided for those seeking mental health and substance abuse treatment through telehealth appointments, providers are still seeing revenue loss due to COVID-19.

“When you pair dramatic drops in patient revenue with increased COVID-19 related expenditures, the result is causing significant challenges for a critical segment of Montana’s health care system,” Hogan said in the release.

Licensed behavioral health providers who have been working since Feb. 15 and have a demonstrated loss in revenue are eligible to apply for the grant money. It can be used to retain employees and programs and support payroll, rent and expenses related COVID-19.

Grants will be allotted by calculating what 8% of a provider’s annual patient revenues are, or lost patient revenues are, between March and June 2020.

Hogan said in the release that providers have lost revenue for a variety of reasons. For example, counseling services provided in group settings require new safety precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus, which cost more money. Other providers are seeing revenue losses when they have to cut sessions short due to the restrictions of telehealth appointments.

“We all recognize how important it is to have accessible behavioral health services across all parts of Montana, and we look forward to awarding this funding in the coming weeks,” Hogan said in the release.

Behavioral health providers in Gallatin County have seen a significant increase in demand for their services during the pandemic. The Bozeman Help Center, a nonprofit that connects people to behavioral health care providers, among myriad other services, received 49% more calls to its referral and crisis hotline between March and May.

In March, when unemployment claims rose dramatically after businesses closed, 82% of callers were looking for assistance with necessities such as food and housing. In April, 60% of calls were about mental health.

Hogan said the goal of the grant program is to give providers a financial boost.

“I want to commend these providers for their efforts to adapt under difficult circumstances to continue providing essential treatment services in communities across the state,” she said.

More information on how to apply for grant money can be found at

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Shaylee Ragar can be reached at or at 582-2607.