Maryland Department of Health awards $48 million in mental health and substance use grant funds


Matt Beuschlein


The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced $48 million in grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Approved by SAMHSA in June, the funding will support more than 15 initiatives to create and expand mental health and substance use services statewide, with distribution of funds slated to start this month.

“Addressing head-on the mental health and substance use challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified is instrumental to Maryland’s successful recovery,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “This new funding will enable us to strengthen programs and services for the Marylanders who have been most severely impacted, including those experiencing mental illness, homelessness and opioid use disorders.”


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MDH will award $16 million through the Community Mental Health Service Block Grant (MHBG) and $32 million through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG). MHBG is designed to provide comprehensive community mental health services to adults with serious mental illness or children with serious emotional disturbance. The SABG is designed to provide funds to prevent and treat substance use disorders.

MDH’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) chose block grant recipients based on which projects could provide the most immediate help. To determine allocation of funding, BHA consulted with local behavioral health authorities and behavioral health stakeholders to determine areas of need, in addition to assessing local and national data and trends. Recipients include behavioral health organizations, universities and Maryland’s local behavioral health providers.

MHBG funding will be used to support the following:

  • Early serious mental illness services, including early intervention in psychosis, evidence-based approaches to crisis reduction and management among those with emerging psychosis symptoms, and development of cultural sensitivity training

  • Crisis care infrastructure, including the Care Traffic Control system, necessary to create a statewide crisis system based upon the SAMHSA/Crisis Now model

  • Suicide prevention and weapons safety training for service members, veterans and their families

  • Critical Time Intervention to help people experiencing homelessness, with serious mental illness, or with substance use disorder during periods of transition

  • Readmission reduction programs to provide case management support for people repeatedly hospitalized for psychiatric-related crisis or interventions, particularly in rural areas of Maryland

  • Expansion of Family Peer Support and Navigation to strengthen equitable distribution of services to more Maryland families

The SABG funding will support the following:

  • Workforce development and substance use prevention programs for local health departments

  • Programs to address behavioral health services gaps for Hispanic residents to support systematic and comprehensive services around trauma and related behavioral health disorders

  • Programs for pregnant women and women with children, ensuring women and their children can be treated together, reducing the need for family separation while addressing substance use or other healthcare problems

  • A new technology platform with data analytic capabilities to allow recovery residences to collect outcome data at the residence, program, and system levels

  • Expansion of peer support in opioid treatment programs

  • A contingency management initiative to actively engage patients who may otherwise be difficult to treat and provide positive reinforcements and to provide training to clinicians on motivational incentives

  • Expansion of child crisis services

  • COVID-19 point-of-care testing for substance use residential treatment providers

  • HIV/AIDS services

“We have identified innovative, broad-reaching, evidence-based projects and we will continue to advocate for effective approaches to service expansion” said BHA Deputy Secretary Dr. Aliya Jones. “We look forward to the successful implementation of these programs, in the service of our most vulnerable populations.”

For more information about the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, visit

This press release was provided by the Maryland Department of Health.