Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced $2.5 million in funding to improve behavioral health services and infrastructure. From 2016 to 2019, mental health Emergency Department visits to Maryland hospitals increased roughly 30%. Funding will support infrastructure and services at the Howard County General Hospital, Sheppard Pratt, and Tuerk House. Photos from the event can be found here.

We will help address the growing need of behavioral health services in Howard County with this $2.5 million in combined funding to help our residents in need. With this investment of County and State funding, we are building on our efforts to support all our neighbors who are experiencing mental and behavioral health care crises in Howard County. These partnerships make clear that when we work together, address issues strategically, and take a truly holistic approach - we will save lives and help build a healthier future for all.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The funding includes $1 million that will support critical investments in the Behavioral Health Unit at Howard County General Hospital. There are currently five beds available in the Emergency Department to accommodate a growing volume of behavioral health patients. Ball’s proposed funding, in addition to $1.6 million in funding from the State, would create 24 beds that would expand capacity and decrease wait times for other non-behavioral health Emergency Department patients.

“Over the last few years, our county has seen a rising need for behavioral health resources in the aftermath of the pandemic, persistent statewide drug misuse and overdoses, and ongoing life stressors for many families and youth,” said State Senator Clarence Lam.  “That’s why this funding to support our foundational behavioral health programs at Howard County General Hospital, Shephard Pratt Hospital, and the Tuerk House is so critical to addressing the challenges facing our community. As a public health physician, I know that behavioral health concerns require collaboration between state and local government, hospitals and providers, and non-profit organizations working in strong partnership together. This funding in County Executive Ball’s budget will go a long way towards elevating the essential behavioral health supports necessary for addressing our resident’s ongoing needs.”

Howard County Council Chair Christiana Rigby says, “Behavioral health services and spaces are critical to ensuring equity in Howard County. When we invest in behavioral health, we are investing in our residents.”

Ball also allocated $1 million to Sheppard Pratt’s Residential Crisis Program. The new facility will operate a residential crisis program at Sheppard Pratt’s Elkridge campus. County funding is also joined by $1.6 million in State funding. The new 16-bed residential crisis program will help County residents in crisis avoid higher levels of care such as emergency departments or inpatient units. It will help County residents transition from higher levels of care at record response times.  

“We recognize the growing demand for behavioral health services in Howard County, especially for those experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Harsh K. Trivedi, MD, MBA, President and CEO of Sheppard Pratt. “Thanks to the generous support of the Howard County Government, we can expand residential crisis programs in Howard County to help residents access lifesaving care during a mental health crisis. We applaud the efforts to ensure access to world-class care in Howard County and particularly for our most vulnerable."

Ball also allocated $500,000 to Tuerk House for the creation of a new residential treatment facility in Highland primarily for pregnant women and women with children, which is a currently underserved population.

“Today’s announcement marks the dawn of a new announcement, allowing the County to hone in on long-term residential treatment services for pregnant women and women who are struggling with the disease of addiction,” said Bernard Foster with Tuerk House.

"An expansion of mental health services has been a strategic goal of the Bureau of Behavioral Health for many years, and it is exciting to see it coming to fruition," said Dr. Roe Rodgers-Bonaccorsy, Howard County Health Department Bureau of Behavioral Health Director. "This additional funding provided by the County allows us to make more effective referrals based on the increased access to services now available to help clients and family members."

Ball's announcement of funding occurs during Mental Health Awareness Month and builds upon his efforts to prioritize investments in mental health and behavioral health services in Howard County. These efforts include an expansion of school-based mental health services to all schools in Howard County and funding for critical behavioral health navigator positions who connect community members, providers, and families to resources in the community.

“Investments like those we announced today are important and necessary to meet the current and growing demand for mental health and substance use services,” says Glenn Schneider, Chief Program Officer of the Horizon Foundation. “We appreciate and thank Dr. Ball for his consistent leadership when it comes to keeping Howard Countians healthy.”

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