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County Executive Ball Celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month With Policy Action

May 28, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – As Howard County observes Mental Health Awareness Month, County Executive Calvin Ball has been working to end the stigma around mental healthcare and taking action to invest in urgently needed services. This May, Howard County recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month to highlight this issue and change the statistics. In his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), Ball has included new and expanded mental health investments aimed at helping children and other at-risk groups. 
“As we honor Mental Health Awareness Month, we are speaking up about the importance of treatment and taking bold action to help those in need,” said Ball. “Working together, we can end the stigma around seeking help. We can normalize mental healthcare and make sure every child and adult has access to quality care. Building on current successes in the county, I have proposed comprehensive action to support mental health for all, no matter your age or ability to afford insurance.”  
Ball’s proposed FY20 Budget includes several new or expanded programs for getting mental healthcare to those in need:

Supporting People in Crisis With Expert Assistance
Behavioral Health Navigation provides clients, family members and providers with information about the resources available in Howard County. Each navigator will help determine what services fit the client’s needs, then refer them to community resources and services, and follow-up on the outcome of the referral. The County began funding navigators at both the Health Department and Howard County General Hospital in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19). Ball has proposed funding navigation services at Grassroots so that the county’s major access points can offer navigation services to individuals in crisis. This will allow the County to monitor their collective work to improve the overall continuum of care for mental health.

Reforming Our Criminal Justice Approach To Mental Health
A new position, Behavioral Health Court Liaison, was created to screen and refer clients in our court system to treatment, as well as to follow-up on that treatment. The Liaison also provides transitional case management for clients, conducts case consultation and educational in-services with agencies at District Court. With this position, Ball is taking important steps to reform our criminal justice system, so we can appropriately address mental health diagnoses for all.

Supporting Young Children’s Social Emotional Development
Early Childhood Mental Health consultation is a program that supports families with children at risk of expulsion from preschool and child care programs. The CARE Center is designed to assist child care providers and parents to meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of young children, from birth to age 5.

Expanding Programs Serving the Mental Health Needs of Young Children
Building Youth Resiliency is a rapid access mental health program providing counseling and psychiatric services with case management support for children and youth 2-24. Any type of insurance is accepted as well as families without insurance. In FY20, Ball has proposed expanding the population served to include children ages 2-4 to meet increased needs with the county’s youngest population and strengthen the continuum of services for families. 

Facilitating Therapeutic Skills for Families
About 83% of Howard County families are privately insured. Prior to this proposed budget, Psychiatric Rehabilitation services were only covered by Medicaid or for families who could pay out of pocket. Starting in FY20 families with private insurance will now be able to access this program. The services offered include the ability for young people to rehearse therapeutic skills, allowing clients and parents to practice skills learned in therapy and apply them in a home setting.

Preventing Youth Suicide 
The county faces a public health emergency, as suicide was the leading cause of death for youth ages 15-19 in Howard County between 2014-2016. According to the Dept. of Health & Human Services, 30% of Maryland high schoolers reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they stopped doing usual activities and 17% reported seriously considering suicide. In February, Ball announced a plan and outreach campaign to decrease youth suicide. 

Keeping Families Together and Healthy
The Howard County Local Care Team (LCT) is an inter-agency council designed to provide resources and support to families who need to access services for a child with intensive emotional and behavioral needs.