Mental Health Association of Maryland

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MHAMD Extends Condolences to Arundel Lodge Community


The Mental Health Association of Maryland expresses its deep sorrow in response to the tragic fire that claimed the lives of three residents of a Residential Rehabilitation home operated by Arundel Lodge in Severn this past weekend. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, Walter McCardell, William Garcia and Barbara Brown, as well as the residents, staff and the entire Arundel Lodge community.

We share this statement from the executive director of Arundel Lodge, Mike Drummond, “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and grateful to the Anne Arundel County Crisis Response Team for their quick response. This is the first incident of this kind in the over 40 years of Arundel Lodge’s service to the community, and we are absolutely devastated. This is an incredibly difficult day for all of us, and we will be providing support to family, friends and staff as we all process this tragedy.”

Please consider supporting Arundel Lodge in its rebuilding efforts by making a donation. You can do that here.

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Talking to your child about the St Mary’s school shooting


The nation’s attention is now focused on Maryland as the home of the most recent school shooting. Today, at least three students were injured at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County.

As the story continues to evolve in the media, parents are faced with the difficult decision of what to say to our kids.

The reality is that there is no one way to have this conversation and we don’t always even have to have the conversation. What we say, when we say it and how we say it depends on our child’s age, maturity level and temperament. And, as parents, we also have to think about what our child may hear from the news, from older siblings or neighbors, and from their friends.

Most national experts agree that children under 8 should be shielded from the story unless they are directly impacted by it or exposed to the aftermath. Here are a few thoughts about addressing the topic with older students.

  • First, process your own emotions before you talk with your child. As a parent, this is scary and we may feel vulnerable, angry or have other strong reactions.
  • Plan what you want to say to your child, thinking specifically about what you want them to take away from the conversation.
  • Reassure your child by highlighting what the school and the people in the school do to keep students safe. As details unfold, consider telling the stories of the heroes.
  • Address images as well as words if your child has seen photos or video in news coverage. Balance the scary photos with positive images of safety officers, school officials and other heroes who help keep students safe.
  • For elementary school students, keep the story brief — just a sentence or two about what happened — and then take your cues from your child’s questions. Note your child may ask questions right away, or may come back to you after having some time to think about what they’ve learned.
  • For middle and high school students, start by asking what they’ve already heard. In today’s quick news and social media culture, odds are that they’ve already heard about the situation. Let them share their thoughts and feelings with you, and use the conversation as an opportunity to share your values and thoughts on the topic. And, consider discussing potential solutions or actions. You may even want to connect the conversation to the “walk outs” and “step ups” that many students participated in or heard about earlier this month.
  • Recognize that students of all ages will process the news in their own way and in their own time. A student who is already anxious, who worries about school or who has experienced trauma may feel greater anxiety, need more time to talk and require extra reassurance about their own safety.

Sadly, our nation’s recent history of school shootings have led to the development of extensive guides on how to talk to children and youth about school violence. Here are a few additional resources to guide your conversation including information developed by Maryland’s Children’s Mental Health Matters Campaign*:

CMHM Fact Sheet on Wellbeing & Resiliency

CMHM Fact Sheet on Trauma

CHMH Fact Sheet on Traumas (Spanish)

At the end of the day, no one knows your child better than you. Review the resources that are out there, make your own decision and do what’s best for your child.


*The Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign is a collaboration of the Mental Health Association of Maryland (MHAMD) and the Maryland Coalition of Families (MCF) supported by the Maryland Department of Health – Behavioral Health Administration. The Campaign goal, with partners across the state, is to raise public awareness of the importance of children’s mental health. For more information, please visit

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Five ways you can get involved during Mental Health Awareness Month


Mental Health Awareness Month GraphicMental Health America declared May as Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949 to spread awareness about mental health and reduce stigma around mental illness and substance use so that individuals feel more comfortable reaching out for help, finding information about mental illness and finding the right treatment. Fighting stigma can seem like a hefty task, so MHAMD pulled together a list of ways that you can spread awareness among people you know, show support for your friends and family, and contribute to the effort to end stigma. And, what better time to help than during Mental Health Awareness Month? These are a few ways that you can spread awareness this month.

Learn more about mental health with online resources during Mental Health Awareness Month

Online resources are a great way to easily share information about how to spot potential mental health issues arising in people you know and learn about how many people live with mental health conditions. Here’s a round-up of useful resources that can be found online:

  • This year’s Mental Health Month theme, Risky Business, explores habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems­ themselves. Topics include risky sex, prescription drug misuse and internet addiction. You can order copies of these fact sheets on MHAMD’s publications form or on our downloadable publications page.
  • The Jed Foundation’s Mental Health Resource Center shares information about dealing with topics ranging from what to do if someone you know may be having suicidal thoughts to tips for managing your own stress and anxiety. The Jed Foundation focuses on mental health awareness among teens and young adults.
  • Healthy New Moms offers resources for pregnant women and new moms to learn more about postpartum mood and anxiety disorder and where to find help. Order hard-copy resources or download at
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s Fact Sheet Library covers a range of mental health topics on one page.
  • The Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign, co-coordinated by MHAMD and the Maryland Coalition of Families, offers numerous resources for families and educators to help address potential mental health issues arising in children and teens.
  • MHAMD offers a free, anonymous and confidential mental health screening for individuals who are concerned that they may be experiencing mental health complications. Brief screenings are a quick way to determine whether you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional.

Take action on mental health advocacy issues and current legislation

Awareness helps end the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders, but it also helps to influence the public policies surrounding access to care for individuals experiencing mental health disorders. Find advocacy networks that you can join now to stay up to day on current state and federal legislation and ways you can let your representatives know your opinion. MHAMD’s Legislative Network will keep you involved in all the mental health policy developments happening in Annapolis during the legislative session.

Connect with us on social media

Social media is a powerful tool for getting information out there to a larger audience. MHAMD and Mental Health America have Mental Health Awareness month graphics that you can easily share on your social media profiles. And, follow and like our social media profiles for new information!

Here are some shareable graphics you can use this month:


Become a member of MHAMD

When you become a member of MHAMD, you create opportunities for individuals to learn how mental illness affects their neighbors, family members and friends. And, you create ways for people to find resources and help when they most need it. Join MHAMD during Mental Health Awareness Month to show your support for the one in five living with mental health and substance use problems.

Start conversations

Making others comfortable with talking about their mental health experiences creates a more accepting and inclusive environment that encourages people to ask for the help they may need. If you know someone who you think may be struggling, make it a point to offer your support if they want to share.

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Maryland breaks the ice about stigma


Last month, six individuals left California on a 5 million-step cross-country marathon called The IceBreaker Run to start a dialogue about the barriers that exist between mental illness and mental health. The effort garnered national attention, including news coverage from CNN. The runners finished last week at the Mental Health America conference in Alexandria, Virginia, but their message has inspired a conversation here in Maryland about the importance of challenging stigma by starting tough dialogues about mental health.

The six Icebreaker runners spoke during a panel at the  Mental Health America conference in Alexandria June 9.

The six Icebreaker runners spoke during a panel at the
Mental Health America conference in Alexandria June 9.

MHAMD challenged Marylanders and organizations to join the movement to eradicate stigma and commit to talking about mental health by running or walking a mile before June 9, the last day of the IceBreaker Run. We received an outpouring of support for the message of “breaking the ice” about mental health, and submissions from participants sharing how they contributed to the movement.

Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc.’s staff walked a mile to eliminate stigma around mental health, and shared their commitment to living each day stigma-free:

 Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems Staff Icebreaker


Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems staff joined the one mile walk movement to eradicate stigma related to mental health! Our staff is always committed to educating the community about mental health and addictions by talking openly, offering guidance, and by looking at the person, not the illness. We advocate for consumers everywhere possible, hoping to empower them and help get them where they need to be. We want to break down the stigma associated with mental health by encouraging equality, being conscious of our language, and offering resources. We partner often with our local Mental Health Association and other advocacy organizations to host community events to spread the word of wellness. We pledge to live each day stigma free and hope others will do the same.

In another challenge against stigma, Sheppard Pratt Health System’s Dr. Thomas Franklin, medical director of The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt, will be racing the 140.6 miles of the July 24 Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. His goals are to fight stigma, to show people that are suffering that treatment works, and to raise money for the Sheppard Pratt Patient Care Fund so that no one has to go without the treatment they need. Read more about his experience here.


With a strong, collective conversation about how mental health impacts our lives and the lives of our loved ones, Maryland can continue working toward a stigma-free environment for those living with mental health conditions.

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Join MHAMD’s volunteer Citizen Action Team


9-23-15 Citizen Action Team logo FNL PMS 405c 518c


Want to learn more about behavioral health topics? Interested in volunteering with the Mental Health Association of Maryland? Join the Citizen Action Team!

The Citizen Action Team brings together consumers, providers, advocates, and passionate individuals to help those living with mental illness and addiction pursue fulfilling lives. With the Citizen Action Team, you will have the opportunity to learn about behavioral health topics, attend trainings, educate communities, and volunteer with MHAMD. Be sure to join the Commit2Five campaign, a branch within the Citizen Action Team, to receive weekly emails with 5-minute change-making advocacy activities.

On April 30, 2016 we held our first orientation of 2016. We are excited to add five newly trained volunteers to the team. This new group learned about MHAMD programs and participated in a lively discussion about how they wanted to spend their volunteer time. Everyone had a great time at the mock health fair and can’t wait to staff their first one!

The beauty in joining the Citizen Action Team is that you choose educational and volunteer opportunities that spark your interest and highlight your strengths; you can dedicate as little or as much time as your schedule will allow. Current volunteers conduct research, assist with material development and social media, plan and attend community events, and participate in advocacy efforts.

We will hold another volunteer orientation in June, more details to come. Sign up for the Citizen Action Team soon!

Posted in: Community Education & Training, Community Engagement

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Breaking the ice and starting the conversation about mental health



Earlier this week, six runners left California on the IceBreaker Run. These six runners will run a marathon each day as they travel from California to Virginia, stopping along the way to start community conversations about mental health. The six runners have diverse backgrounds and experiences, but each one has had their life touched by mental illness. Their goal is to “break the ice” and encourage others to feel comfortable enough to begin tough conversations about mental health and illness. The run will end on June 9, 2016 at the Mental Health America conference in Alexandria.

We are “breaking the ice” in Maryland in many ways. On May 19, 2016 the Maryland Coalition for Mental Health Awareness will present their fourth annual art event. This year’s theme: Walk in My Shoes: Raising Mental Health Awareness through Art asks participants to experience the artwork of individuals who are in recovery from mental illness and addiction. The event is free and open to the public from 1-5 p.m. in the 3rd floor banquet room of the American Visionary Art Museum. Each year the event gives attendees the opportunity to meet the artists and individuals in recovery and witness that treatment works and recovery is possible.

We know that not everyone can attend the art event or participate in a cross-country run, but most of us can walk or run a mile at our own pace on our own schedule. You can join the movement to eradicate stigma and commit to talking about mental health and its impact on you, family, friends or community by running or walking one mile between now and June 9, 2016. While you are running or walking, think about a five-minute, stigma-busting activity that you can commit to or who in your life you can engage in conversations or advocacy related to mental health.

We would like to highlight MHAMD and Citizen Action Team members who participate in the virtual walk/run on our MHAMD Perspectives blog and via social media. Please take a photo of you or your group before, during, or after your run with one of the downloadable signs or a sign you have made yourself and email it to us (using the subject, “Icebreaker”) with a short statement about what five-minute activity you have committed to or who you plan to engage in a conversation with about mental health. You can also share your photos on social media using #mentalhealthmatters or #weruntobreaktheice.

Commit2Five Sign

Children’s Mental Health Matters! Sign

We are so excited to join Mental Health America, the Herron Project and the IceBreaker team in this landmark conversation starter. Join us!

Update: In an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, Sheppard Pratt Health System’s Dr. Thomas Franklin, medical director of The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt, wrote an inspiring blog post sharing his battle with depression. He will be racing the 140.6 miles of the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon to fight stigma, to show people that are suffering that treatment works, and to raise money for the Sheppard Pratt Patient Care Fund so that no one has to go without the treatment they need. Read more >>

For questions, contact:

Adrienne Ellis
Director, Healthcare Reform and Community Engagement
Mental Health Association of Maryland
443-901-1550 x206

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