Funding for Behavioral Health Services is Overdue

MACo submitted written testimony in support of Senate Bill 703, “Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program – Establishment”, to the House Health and Government Operations and Appropriations Committee on March 27, 2018.

The proposed program allows local behavioral health authorities to apply for a competitive grant to expand or establish crisis response programs. Local jurisdictions would be afforded more funds to meet the behavioral health needs of the community through mobile crisis teams, on-demand walk-in services, and residential beds. These programs allow counties to begin to address long-term public health issues in the community, instead of just responding to needs as they arise.

The bill looks likely to pass in some form, as this version has already passed the Senate 45-0 and its cross-file passed through the Health and Government Operations Committee and 133-5 on the House floor.

From MACo Testimony:

Each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions has a local behavioral health authority that is responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring behavioral health services in their county. These authorities may be county government agencies, quasi-governmental, private or non-profits entities that oversee mental health, substance abuse, or overall behavioral health services locally.

SB 703 would significantly support and advance those efforts. This grant program affords these authorities the opportunity to build upon progress made both at the local and state levels to provide comprehensive behavioral crisis services that can meet their community needs on demand. It is vitally important to connect individuals to services when they reach out for help and not a moment later. The budget appropriations for the program ensure that the authorities can invest in and build long-term programs instead of stop-gap fixes.

Additionally, the terms of the grant incentivize local authorities to capitalize on existing resources without fear of the funding supplanting their current sources. Establishing and expanding behavioral crisis services is important to local governments and critical for the health and welfare of their communities.”

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.