Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Half-Day Summit

The Behavioral Health half-day summit was held on October 1 at the War Memorial building. Read a recap of the event here. The Behavioral Health Planning Group (listed below) created a white paper (access it here) in which they developed 17 potential solutions dealing with a host of issues including reducing stigma associated with substance use; access to treatment; provider capacity; housing and recovery support; and care coordination and integration that were considered at the half day forum, and voted on using mobile technology.

Here are the 11 recommendations that were selected and will be considered at the full Solutions Summit on December 10 (Register for free here). There were 11 recommendations because there was a tie for the 10th slot.

Behavioral Health Recommendations Ballot – Winners

Care Coordination and Integration

  1. Conduct a full landscape scan of treatment and service providers throughout the city, including eligibility requirements, insurance types accepted, levels of care, services available, and number of people served annually. Include in this landscape scan service gaps by provider type, level of care, and geography. Publish this inventory in print and online, and create a mechanism to ensure that information in the inventory is verified and updated regularly. Ideally, create an online platform with live, continuously updated data on available treatment slots and program capacity.
  1. Create a funding model that uses discretionary funds to support case management and peer recovery specialist services in order to provide wraparound and care coordination services to meet consumers’ needs.

Stigma Reduction

  1. Behavioral Health System Baltimore should develop a training program to train local behavioral health providers on: (1) how to reduce bias and stigma within their programs and (2) how to effectively advocate to decision-makers about the needs of those in or in need of treatment. 
  1. Coordinate and launch a communications and public awareness campaign aimed at normalizing substance use disorders, changing public perception of people dealing with addiction to reduce stigma, and educating the public about treatment and recovery options. 
  1. Advocate for fair, non-discriminatory zoning standards that permit outpatient and residential programs to locate in communities under the same standards as other medical services.

Provider Capacity and Consumer Access

  1. Increase the efficacy of the city’s Crisis, Information, and Referral (CI&R) helpline by: (1) staffing the line with peer specialists with lived experience, (2) training helpline staff in stigma reduction and referral procedures, and (3) launching a communications campaign to increase the public’s awareness and utilization of the helpline.
  1. Develop a training program to educate both new and veteran physicians and other front-line medical professionals on substance use disorders, their treatment options, and prescribing guidelines to reduce stigma against people dealing with addiction and the overutilization of addictive pain medications. Explore possibilities of requiring such training for city physicians and other practitioners as part of their continuing education and incorporating it into medical school curricula.
  1. City leadership should coordinate and launch an appeal to Congress and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to bring coverage for substance use disorders in Medicare into parity with other medical benefits, covering all levels of care and settings of care, including opioid treatment programs and all licensed practitioners. As part of this advocacy, explore partnering with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other advocacy groups for the elderly and persons with disabilities to coordinate advocacy on Medicare coverage for substance use disorder treatment and services.

Housing and Recovery Support Services

  1. City leadership should coordinate and launch appeal to the State to strengthen standards and regulations regarding intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), inpatient/residential programs, and State certified recovery residences. A central piece of this advocacy should be involving consumer feedback into program evaluation.
  1. Implement stronger enforcement of existing federal, state, and local laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination against individuals engaged in treatment or recovery support services—including individuals using prescribed medications to treat substance use disorders—in all areas, including housing, benefits, and other services. Where gaps in anti-discrimination laws exist, launch a coordinated advocacy campaign to create new city or state anti-discrimination protections.
  1. Increase access to sustainable funding and providing technical assistance to help improve quality of services (including data collection and outcome tracking) and sustainability throughout the behavioral health continuum of care.


Behavioral Health Planning Group

Susan Leviton (co-chair) is a University of Maryland Law School professor emeritus and founder of the statewide child advocacy group Advocates for Children and Youth. She has a long history in law and advocacy. She has specialized in representing children in juvenile court and special education proceedings. And, she was honored with the Margaret Brent-Juanita Jackson Mitchell Award by the Bar Association of Baltimore City. Leviton is a member of the OSI-Baltimore Advisory Board and chair of its Grants Committee.


Scott Nolen-sqScott Nolen (co-chair) is the Director of the Drug Addiction Treatment program at OSI-Baltimore. Nolen has held a variety of research, legislative and advocacy positions in the public health and juvenile and criminal justice fields. Before joining OSI-Baltimore, he worked as a health scientist in the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Strategic Planning, Legislation and Scientific Policy. As a part of the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, Nolen led a project focused on driving the national discussion on health disparities. Prior to that, Nolen was the Director of the Equal Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, which allowed the health care and criminal justice advocate to combine his legal training with his background in social science research.

Adrienne Ellis, Director of Healthcare Reform and Community Engagement, Mental Health Association of Maryland

Dr. Aliya Jones, Chair of Department of Behavioral Health, Bon Secours Hospital

Adrienne Breidenstine, Vice President of Policy and Communications, Behavioral Health System Baltimore

Carin Miller, Founder, Save Our Children Peer Family Support Groups

Ellen Weber, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Founder, Drug Policy Clinic

Ronald Fountain, Peer Recovery Specialist, New Hope Treatment Center

Vickie Walters, Director, Institutes for Behavior Research’s Recovery Enhanced by Access to Comprehensive Healthcare (REACH) program

Carlos Hardy, CEO, Maryland Recovery Organization Connecting Communities (MROCC)

Amanda Owens, Program Officer for Criminal Justice and Addiction, Abell Foundation

Dr. Nancy Rosen-Cohen, Executive Director, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Maryland (NCADD-MD)