The Aroostook Mental Health Center is one of numerous mental health agencies in Aroostook County hoping to increase public awareness of mental health issues. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / The Star Herald

AUGUSTA, Maine— Maine plans to distribute more than $9 million to hundreds of mental health and substance use disorder service providers starting next week.

The office of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the money will come in the form of MaineCare payments to 442 providers to help with immediate workforce needs. The payments will continue through the end of the year, according to the governor’s office.

The payments are part of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ long-term plan to improve access to behavioral health care in the state, Mills’ office said. The investment in behavioral health is about “keeping Maine people in their communities and out of jails and emergency departments whenever possible, as well as progress toward long-term, sustainable solutions,” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of health and human services.

The money is part of the biennial budget the Maine Legislature passed and the governor signed.