Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration Expands COVID-19 Resources for Providers
The Maryland Department of Health announced Thursday that it has released a series of tools and guidance materials for mental health professionals to adapt their practices to the needs of their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Throughout this unprecedented and rapidly unfolding situation, we know that leadership and robust communication are imperative to ensure the health and safety of our healthcare workers and the Marylanders we serve,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall in a statement. “BHA is leading this charge for the residents it serves, ensuring they continue to get the needed treatment and support.”
According to a news release, the Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration, which serves 278,000 residents across 3,500 mental health care providers, is looking to aid professionals as they continue their practices in spite of the stay-at-home directive issued by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) late last month. Some of these efforts include:
- Offering guidance for professionals as they transition to providing their services through expanded telehealth and other online measures
- Employing grant funding to buy personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the frontlines
- Supporting federal resolutions that modify “take-home medication requirements” to reduce the number of individuals that shuffle in and out of facilities for treatment programs
- Extending license and certificate renewal deadlines
Additionally, the Behavioral Health Administration has arranged weekly calls with providers in residential substance abuse disorder and opioid treatment services to share best practices that guarantee the least possible disruption in client access. The department is meeting regularly with the Maryland Behavioral Health Authorities and managers of local behavioral health services to address regional problems that may arise.
The Behavioral Health Administration also introduced a COVID-19 resource page on its website and, to address any immediate questions, designated an email address and Google form.
To directly address members of the public, the Behavioral Health Administration has developed public service announcements to pinpoint and prevent symptoms of anxiety and depression, a list of virtual support groups and a guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communication.
The department is also generating social media posts surrounding mental health, substance abuse disorders and gambling addictions in an effort to connect Maryland residents to the appropriate resources.
“I believe we can come out of this crisis even stronger than before,” Aliya Jones, Deputy Secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, said in a statement. “We are helping people remain safe and well, while strengthening systems that meet the current and future needs of our community.”