Air Date

March 28, 2023

Featured Guest

Dr. Anita Everett
Director, Center for Mental Health Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


Marc DeCourcey
Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation


Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) provide comprehensive behavioral health care to those with mental health issues or concerns. These clinics are required to serve any patient requesting assistance, regardless of their age, location, or ability to pay. 

At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event focused on mental health, Dr. Anita Everett, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), spoke about the future of CCBHCs and their impact on the country’s mental health services.

The CCBHC Model Aims to Address Mental Health Treatment Accessibility Issues

According to Everett, 2023 marks 60 years since the original passage of the Community Mental Health Center Services Act in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.

“It was one of the last things that he signed before his assassination; it was part of a whole new vision that had many aspects to it, including the moonshot,” she said. “And one of those was, of course, a life in the community for individuals who may have otherwise been institutionalized.”

However, since then, the mental health system has received mass criticism for not providing equal access to care.

“In my mind, the CCBHC model, which we're now working with and proposing, is really a full-on answer and the best shot we've had really in 60 years,” Everett said. “[A CCBHC] moves away from the idea that if you live here, you can't have that kind of case management, or you can't really have that kind of supported housing or those kinds of services. It creates a standard expectation, no matter where you live, for those services.”

“It also has quality metrics that are a component of it,” she continued. “Similar to the way the community health center initiative works, CCBHCs see everyone irrespective of their ability to pay … and they also see the full age range.”

Additionally, CCBHCs offer a higher cost reimbursement than other mental health services have in the past.

“A monthly statement of the total cost to deliver care within parameters that are established is submitted, and that amount is paid for,” she explained.

CCBHCs Updated Their Existing Criteria to Better Assist the Public

According to Everett, because the original set of criteria for CCBHCs was developed nearly eight years before 2023, a few sections required updating.

“Three of the broad themes that we've updated in the criterion … include a strengthening of the language that we had about crisis systems,” she said. “So much has happened in the last little bit with regards to 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline) evolving and developing … so crisis is one thing that's developed and worked out a little bit more in this new revised certification criterion.”

“We've also ramped up the substance use treatment that's required,” Everett added. “We do require medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. More recently, we also included medication-assisted treatment for smoking cessation … [which] remains a very important health risk factor for many of the people that are served by our clinics.”

“The third of the three areas that are updated in the criterion includes a stronger emphasis … on underserved and underserved communities, and ensuring that the CCBHCs are full-on in their recognition of the need to make sure that they serve populations from across their entire community,” she continued.

CCBHCs Can Be a ‘Game Changer’ for Mental Health Services in the U.S.

Everett noted that, as of August 2022, 2.1 million people are served by CCBHCs. 

“Because of becoming a CCBHC and the attention that they get with regards to looking at their front door or the access points, 23% more people are able to be served on average per clinic,” she said. 

In other words, a clinic that previously was serving 100 people can now serve 123 people. Additionally, an average of 27 new staff positions per clinic are created.

“Mostly, these staff positions are at competitive salary rates, which is a … chronic problem for us who work in these types of clinics,” Everett explained. “As a result of becoming a peer support specialist, we're another component of the workforce. It's turned out to be extremely valuable.”

More data shows that “84% of CCBHCs added in peers to their existing staff as a way to … augment the recovery support needs of staff,” she noted. "I think of [CCBHCs] as very much a game changer for mental health services."