For Immediate Release
February 1, 2019
MHAMD Honors Former Maryland State Senators Kasemeyer and Middleton, Delegate Sample-Hughes, Behavioral Health Administration’s Merrick at 2019 Legislative Briefing
Author and Mental Health Advocate Sue Klebold to Deliver Keynote; MD Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford to Speak on Hogan Administration’s Behavioral Health Priorities
Lutherville, Md. — The Mental Health Association of Maryland (MHAMD) honors the state’s champions of behavioral health and offers an overview of its legislative priorities at its 2019 Legislative Briefing and Reception to be held on February 5 in Annapolis. (more…)
Marylanders will soon cast their votes to decide who will serve as governor and in the general assembly. As we move toward Election Day on November 6, there are number of important issues facing the state.
October 10 was World Mental Health Day, a global observance that raises awareness about mental health issues around the world. Mental health issues are not unique to the United States. They affect people in every country. (more…)
This week throughout Maryland, kids returned to school after a long summer break. For many kids, it’s a time of excitement as they reconnect with old friends, meet their teachers and get back into the school routine. For some kids, though, this time of transition can cause anxiety. So what can you do as a parent if you see your child exhibit feelings of anxiety about returning to school? We’ve put together some tips to help. (more…)
Expanding crisis services in Maryland
Earlier this year, Governor Hogan signed SB 551 / HB 682 into law. The bill requires the Maryland Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC) to develop a strategic plan for ensuring that all Marylanders have access to 24/7 clinical crisis walk-in services and mobile crisis teams.
The Crisis Response System was established in 2002, but it currently exists as a patchwork of services from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. While all jurisdictions in Maryland currently have one or more components of a comprehensive crisis system, none has an adequate continuum, and only three counties currently offer a walk-in capacity.
Crisis services have been shown to significantly reduce preventable mental health and substance use disorder crises and offer earlier intervention, providing less costly and more therapeutic care. A statewide network of 24/7 walk-in and mobile crisis services will allow individuals to receive effective treatment for behavioral health crises, thereby lowering avoidable incarcerations, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions.
Development of the strategic plan is underway. Between now and December 2017, BHAC will work to develop a plan that meets the needs of all Marylanders by reviewing local and national crisis service models, identifying systemic challenges specific to our state and ensuring that the plan is coordinated with other ongoing healthcare reform efforts.
As an initial step in the process, the BHAC Executive Committee has developed a survey to gather certain information from interested stakeholders and the public at-large. This survey will inform an environmental scan being performed by a consultant to the project. The questions have been designed to generate feedback related to the availability of clinical crisis walk-in services and mobile crisis teams and to help identify priorities that will be used to guide decision-making as we work to expand these services.
Your input is essential to ensuring that the final strategic plan reflects the needs of the community. Please take a moment to complete the survey, then share it with your friends and family and urge them to complete it as well. Make your voice heard as we work to create an effective statewide network of 24/7 clinical crisis walk-in centers and mobile crisis teams.
This week, September 5-11, individuals and organizations are sharing personal stories, information and resources on social media for National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in Maryland and the numbers have increased in recent years. What can you do to raise awareness during National Suicide Prevention Week? Here are five simple actions that you can take now to spread the word about suicide prevention.
Join the National Suicide Prevention Week conversation on social media
It’s easy to share information and meaningful stories during National Suicide Prevention Week. Consider sharing your personal story about the impact of suicide or re-post an infographic like the ones you can find at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP). And don’t forget to use any of the campaign hashtags: #NSPW16, #StopSuicide, #BeThe1To or a hashtag for each day of the week.
Download the “There is Hope” App
Keep a quick reference on the risk factors and warning signs for suicide as well as tips on how to talk with someone who may be considering suicide with the “There is Hope” app. There’s even a suicide risk self-assessment. There is Hope was just released in Maryland during the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s kickoff event for National Suicide Prevention Week. Download “There is Hope” and share with friends or family.
Get involved locally
Register for an event in your community. Consider signing up for a Mental Health First Aid® course or one of the many local Out of the Darkness walks. Learn more about Mental Health First Aid in Maryland here.
Tune in to the World Suicide Prevention Day Twitter Chat
On Friday, September 9, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will lead into World Suicide Prevention Day with a Twitter Chat. Tune into this event, cosponsored by several national organizations such as Mental Health America, The Jed Foundation and Active Minds. Join the discussion using the hashtag #BeThe1To.
Take or share MHAMD’s free mental health screening
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. MHAMD recently updated the screening with more options and availability in Spanish. Take the screening or share the link with those you care about.
A guest post from consumer advocate Jessica S.:
As a consumer of behavioral health services for many years, it was not until I pursued specialty treatment for PTSD that I learned the depth of the injustice to behavioral health consumers done by insurance companies. It was an accepted norm that the therapy I needed would not be covered by my insurance because the network of providers available to me through my insurance company was laughably inadequate.
Upon starting treatment with my new provider I was encouraged to file for reimbursement with my insurance company and informed of my rights as a consumer to have mental health covered the same way physical health is. I began filing my claims and was denied any reimbursement by my insurance company due to a rule they were enforcing only for consumers – a requirement that all claims had to be filed within 90 days of service. The claims filing system is burdensome, so I had been saving my claims to file at one time rather than take on this tedious process. Devastated by this outright refusal to acknowledge my treatment costs, I contacted the Maryland Parity Project who helped me figure out who I needed to contact and what I needed to do to get my money. It took a long time, and it was not easy. I had to involve the Attorney General’s office and the Maryland Insurance Administration. The Health Education and Advocacy Unit of the Attorney General’s office took my complaint seriously and agreed that the insurance company was violating my rights. They were able to get the insurance to waive the 90-day requirement and after 5 months I received 1/5 of what I had paid out. It was so low due to insurance low reimbursement rates. What happened next changed my life in more ways than I have fully processed. I was asked to testify (share my story) in front of the Maryland State Legislature about my experience and the need for legislative action to prevent insurance companies from imposing such an unfair standard onto consumers.
I am a very private person, and it scared me to think about so publicly sharing that I have suffered from PTSD. I knew it was the right thing to do and that the cause was greater than my desire to stay private. Standing up for myself and sharing what I had been through just to get my insurance provider to do what they were supposed to do was so empowering. One of the most important lessons that I’ve taken with me is just that: stand up for yourself. No matter how tedious and frustrating or how the odds aren’t in your favor. I kept going with this issue and realized I was involved in something much bigger than just me. I learned that battles like this take time, and all I really had to do was not give up. They depend on people giving up and sadly many do because the barriers put in place to keep consumers from accessing care are traumatizing. After my testimony, my insurance provider decided they should reimburse me fully due to the fact that they do not have any providers within their network who could provide me with the treatment I needed (and because I called them out publicly for their despicable treatment of consumers). After 10 months, I finally received FULL reimbursement with interest.
At times I feel saddened and angry that I had to sacrifice my privacy in order to get coverage for my treatment. Not only did I have to stand before a group of legislators, but I also was later informed that many other people had access to my claims information. I feel that my privacy was severely compromised by my insurance provider. I feel so passionate about what I went through and continue to feel outraged for myself and for all suffering from mental health issues that I am continuing to speak out and work with the Mental Health Association of Maryland on addressing these issues. I am still in treatment and will have to file claims again if I want to be reimbursed for my treatment costs.
For everyone in treatment for a mental health condition please know that your voice matters. Please speak up and utilize the resources that are available to help you. Find your voice and hold insurance companies accountable for their continued discriminatory behavior towards consumers with mental health disorders.
If you are interested in getting involved in advocacy or education, sign up for MHAMD’s Citizen Action Team. To commit to five minutes of change-making advocacy per week, join the Citizen Action Team’s Commit2Five campaign.
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.
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 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.
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!