Providing Mental Health Services to TANF Recipients: Program Design Choices and Implementation Challenges in Four States. Primary Focus on Mental Health


Programs designed to address mental health needs exclusively tend to provide intensive, comprehensive mental health services through experienced clinical staff. Utah's program focuses primarily on identifying mental health conditions and providing the services to address those conditions. Mental health staff may address other conditions (e.g., substance abuse, domestic violence, and child behavioral problems) as they arise, but staff mostly refer clients to agencies in the community to deal with other types of service needs. The advantage of this approach is that employment and mental health staff can focus exclusively on identifying and treating mental health conditions. In addition, staff in these programs typically have extensive experience in providing mental health treatment. They have a solid understanding of the mental health system and ways to access mental health treatment. The downside of this approach is that mental health staff may be so specialized that other conditions that may affect work go undetected and untreated.

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