By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Health on Monday announced $55 million in grants for relief to behavioral health patients and service providers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

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The grants will create and expand more than 20 initiatives. According to the MDH, the grants will support programs to address the effects of the pandemic on children and adults with serious mental illness and substance use disorders

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Marylanders with serious mental illness and substance use disorders, including the youngest among us, in ways we will continue to understand over time,” said MDH Secretary Dennis Schrader. “Concentrating now on the needs of these populations and ensuring that accessible support is available is essential to our state’s recovery.”

The department will award about half of the funding, $27.8 million, through the Mental Health Service Block Grant. The remaining $27.5 million will be awarded through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

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The new mental health programs supported include:

  • Caring Contacts suicide prevention intervention in Maryland’s emergency departments
  • Expansion of Operation Roll Call

  • Workforce training for Peer Recovery Specialists to help individuals in crisis

  • Early childhood mental health and education services for families with high-risk children

  • Maryland Essentials for Childhood, a statewide collective initiative focused on preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences

  • Involuntary commitment consultation

  • Workforce development for residential rehabilitation providers

  • Ask the Question training

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline transition to “988”

  • Impact of COVID-19 Systemic Changes in Child Mental Health Services on Retention of Vulnerable Youth in Care, a program to examine how the transition to telepsychiatry affects disparities in mental healthcare retention for youth in Medicaid

The new substance abuse programs include:

  • Child care and recovery housing for pregnant women and women with children during withdrawal management

  • Training for medication-assisted treatment and trauma-informed care

  • Early childhood mental health and parenting programs that support the statewide expansion of targeted opioid awareness and prevention activities

“We reach every corner of Maryland’s public behavioral health system to understand and fill the gaps for all mental health and substance use disorder needs—including for our young people, pregnant women and veterans,” said BHA Deputy Secretary Dr. Aliya Jones. “Through our extensive outreach and conversations with community partners and stakeholders, we will continue to identify how we can lead Maryland’s recovery by leaving no one behind.”

 

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CBS Baltimore Staff