March 18, 2022
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536
Andy Owen, Deputy Director, Media Relations, 410-767-6491
Maryland Department of Health expands child and adolescent behavioral health crisis services, peer recovery services
$17.7 million in grant funding will support local behavioral health authorities, behavioral health crisis walk-in centers and urgent care centers
Baltimore, MD—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced two initiatives to expand child and adolescent services, in addition to peer recovery services, to help Marylanders who are experiencing behavioral health crises. Beginning this week, MDH will issue $17.7 million in grant funding among local behavioral health authorities statewide to help increase access to walk-in and urgent care services.
“Crisis service expansion is essential to help reduce strain on hospital systems and make sure individuals are connected with appropriate care,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “By identifying and addressing gaps in the system, we’re replacing barriers to care with evidence-based practices.”
The number of young people visiting the emergency department for mental health needs—particularly for deliberate self-harm—has increased nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC). Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
, and the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the crisis.
The MRSS crisis model—currently operating in Harford County and the greater Mid-Shore region—will expand into Allegany, Garrett, Washington, Frederick, St. Mary's, Calvert and Charles Counties over the next three months, with the goal of expanding into more areas as additional funding is made available.
Peer recovery is an evidence-based approach to help people connect more closely with community-based organizations through shared experiences in recovery. BHA’s crisis peer services expansion will provide $2.3 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Supplemental Mental Health Block Grant
to expand peer recovery support for individuals who use crisis services through behavioral health crisis walk-in centers and urgent care centers.
Using the Peer Crisis Model
, expanding peer crisis services will help connect people who are experiencing a crisis with a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist
to help navigate community-based treatment resources and prevent future crises. Program expansion will initially support more than 1,300 individuals in Harford, Howard, Frederick, St. Mary’s and Worcester Counties. BHA’s goal is to reach up to 12 jurisdictions by 2025.
“A cohesive crisis system is vital to help young people and adults at significantly vulnerable junctures in their lives,” said BHA Deputy Secretary Dr. Aliya Jones. “We are expanding opportunities to ensure people are connected with immediate, appropriate and sustained care.”
People experiencing a mental health crisis, including thoughts of suicide, should contact Maryland’s helpline by calling 211 and pressing 1, texting 898-211, or visiting pressone.211md.org
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.