Providing Mental Health Services to TANF Recipients: Program Design Choices and Implementation Challenges in Four States. Types of Services


There is great variation in the types of mental health services provided by the study states to TANF recipients (see Table II.1). In Oregon, mental health specialists primarily screen and assess TANF clients for mental health conditions and link them to a mental health treatment provider in the community. In Tennessee, family services counselors conduct in-depth assessments and provide crisis intervention and short-term mental health treatment. Individuals with more severe mental health treatment needs are linked with Medicaid-funded treatment providers. In Florida, outreach workers identify and screen clients who appear to need mental health services and link them to Medicaid-funded providers or to contracted mental health treatment providers that are paid through TANF funds. In Utah, clinical social workers stationed in the local welfare offices conduct clinical assessments and make diagnoses and recommendations for mental health treatment. They also provide some crisis intervention and short-term, employment-focused mental health treatment.

Services Florida Oregon Tennessee Utah
Screening and assessment X X X X
Linking clients to existing treatment X X X X
Targeted short-term mental health counseling   ** X X
Expansion of existing mental health services X     X
Resource/consultation for employment case managers   X X X
Intensive case management* X X X X
Assistance in applying for SSI   X X X
Note: * In all of the study states, intensive case management is provided in some of the local welfare offices (or contracted mental health service providers).
Note: ** Mental health counselors in Oregon provide crisis intervention only.

The choice of which mental health services to offer is often based on the needs of clients and the resources available in the local communities. This section explores the types of mental health services provided through the local welfare office and describes some of the ways that these types of services are delivered. Most programs include one or more of the following services: (1) screening and assessment, (2) linking clients to existing treatment, (3) targeted short-term mental health counseling, (4) expansion of existing mental health services, (5) resource or consultation for employment case managers, (6) intensive case management, and (7) assistance in applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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