ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan has declared May 2021 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Maryland. Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford presented the proclamation during a meeting of the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland, which studies Marylanders’ access to mental health services and the link between mental health issues and substance use disorders.
“One of our key priorities is providing resources and support to Marylanders facing mental health challenges,” said Governor Hogan. “It is our responsibility and duty to acknowledge how integral positive mental health is to our success as individuals, as a state, and our nation. If you or anyone you know is struggling, I encourage you to please take the first step and reach out for help.”
Lt. Governor Rutherford, who chairs the commission, emphasized the need to increase the acceptance and understanding around mental and behavioral health issues.
“The Hogan-Rutherford administration is committed to increasing access to crucial mental health resources for all Marylanders, while reducing barriers to treatment like affordability and accessibility,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “Working collaboratively with our local, state, and federal partners will improve safety, quality of life, and health outcomes for those Marylanders and their families.”
Mental Health America recently ranked Maryland among the top ten states with a lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care. The State of Maryland has a number of resources available for those seeking mental health resources, including 211 Maryland, which is available online and by phone 24/7. 211 Maryland has partnered with the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to launch MD Mind Health. Marylanders can text “MD Mind Health” to 898-211 to sign up and receive encouragement, reminders, and resources for fighting isolation and staying connected. This resource is also available in Spanish by texting “MD Salud Mental.”
BHA also launched Operation Roll Call, a program offering regular check-in calls and support to veterans. Operation Roll Call, inspired in-part by the Department of Aging’s Senior Call Check-in program, notifies an emergency contact if they are unable to reach a veteran. BHA is also helping to support mobile crisis services and stand-alone walk-in crisis services for the treatment of community mental health and substance use disorders.
The Maryland Department of Health has launched an array of programs addressing mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. The CovidCONNECT website helps Marylanders impacted by COVID-19 by providing a central location for individuals to find mental health resources, bi-weekly webinars, and virtual support groups.
Last week, Governor Hogan announced the launch of “Project Bounce Back,” a $25 million public-private partnership to support strategic mental health services, expand youth development programs, address Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs), and develop innovative, data-driven digital solutions to build resilience.