How do grants support services for young people with mental health disorders?

Strengthening mental health support systems for youth


One in every 4 to 5 youth in the general population have a mental disorder, such as a mood disorder, anxiety, or behavior disorder. Many of these young people have experienced trauma, homelessness, attempted suicide, or been arrested.

The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program, also referred to as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI), supports programs for young people with serious emotional disturbances and their families. Since 2013, CMHI has awarded 93 new system of care (SOC) grants to support expansion and sustainability of services for these young people and their families.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which oversees CMHI, asked Westat to help evaluate the impact of the grants.


Working with SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), we are conducting a multisite national evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of the SOC grants in expanding, coordinating, and improving care.

We developed high-quality quantitative and qualitative instruments to examine the grantees’ program implementation efforts. We will share the findings from our evaluation with multiple audiences, including Congress.


Since its inception, CMHI programs have served more than 100,000 young people and their families.

Our evaluation of the impact of the new grants will 

  • Provide a framework for developing program policies and guiding future programs so they best meet the needs of young people
  • Provide guidance and training activities for states and localities seeking to create a sustainable infrastructure of services for young people
  • Help ensure that young people and their families receive adequate services and support to improve their mental health and their lives


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