Kentucky Assisted Outpatient Treatment program receives $4 million grant

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) received a federal commitment of $4 million in grant funding that will enhance outpatient treatment services for people with serious mental illness (SMI).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation, awarded the grant to fund Kentucky Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs in four regions of the state. AOT will serve a small SMI population in need of high-impact behavioral health services, such as people recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital who are not likely to engage voluntarily in ongoing care.

AOT is expected to serve 192 people and will be implemented in regions served by two state-owned psychiatric hospitals, Central State and Western State. This includes counties served by the Seven Counties, Communicare, River Valley and Pennyroyal Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs). The grant will make $1 million available annually for four years.

Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Commissioner Wendy Morris noted that the grant process was competitive and that CHFS is among only 17 national recipients of the award. She added that the funding will help Kentucky expand its mental health programming “in a very meaningful way. It will also allow us to advance our commitment to improving access to quality mental healthcare, reducing treatment gaps and empowering these individuals with mental illness.”

Kentucky’s AOT program focuses on individuals with a severe mental illness who meet criteria set forth in Tim’s Law, legislation originally passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017 and updated in the most recent session. It authorizes state district courts to order AOT for individuals who have been involuntarily hospitalized at least twice in the past 24 months and are unlikely to effectively maintain outpatient treatment voluntarily.