Families Join Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to Support Improvements in Mental Health Care in Maryland

 
Baltimore, MD (December 10, 2014) – Families of individuals with serious mental illness joined state health leaders to recommend today that the state implement three proposals to improve treatment for the severely mentally ill in Maryland.
Th​e first proposal would create an outpatient civil commitment program to help severely mentally ill individuals pursue stable lives. Maryland is currently one of just five states to lack such a program.
 
“Outpatient civil commitment provides the option of outpatient treatment to a small, clearly defined population when it is the least-restrictive alternative to maintain an individual’s health and safety,” stated Jessica Honke, Policy and Advocacy Director of NAMI Maryland. “Many individuals with serious mental illness and their families have been in crisis for years because there is no outpatient treatment option for those who refuse voluntary treatment. Without this alternative the small, high-risk subset of people will be served by emergency rooms, hospitals, jails and prisons, or will suffer the outcomes of non-treatment: homelessness, criminalization, victimization, suicide or violence.”
 
“Our goal is to help individuals with severe mental illness receive treatment and end the debilitating cycle of hospitalizations, homelessness and incarcerations,” said Dr. Gayle M. Jordan-Randolph, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
 
An outpatient civil commitment law involves mandatory monitoring and participation in clinically approved treatment that often includes the use of psychotropic medications, along with other support services, for individuals who repeatedly have been hospitalized and who, despite voluntary treatment opportunities, have struggled in the community. The program is intended as a time-limited intervention to support recovery from illness, to reduce the long-term impact of incomplete or interrupted mental health treatment, to increase quality of the life and to reduce the arrest/re-arrest rates in people suffering from severe mental illness.
 
Marylanders with adult children grappling with severe mental illness today urged the state to adopt outpatient civil commitment. Judith Kerner-McIver spoke of having to transport her adult son to Pennsylvania, where outpatient civil commitment treatment has helped her son regain stability and employment. Susan Kneller spoke of her son’s illness and how she fears a lack of treatment will result in negative interactions with law enforcement. And H. Giles Knight spoke of his son’s inability to lead a stable, productive life within Maryland’s current voluntary-only, outpatient treatment framework. 
 
The second proposal would improve access to such voluntary community-based services as assertive community treatment, rental subsidies and crisis services – including services that are readily accessible to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Maryland has long been a national leader in providing quality, community-based care to individuals with mental illness. Through a number of key initiatives in the past 20 years, the state has expanded access to community- and evidence-based mental health treatment, has developed innovative services and has expanded access to crisis services, supportive services and housing. As a result of these efforts, an overwhelming majority of individuals with mental illness have improved access to care, enabling them to live fulfilling and productive lives in the community. This proposal would build upon previous successes in the state and would help ensure that services remain accessible to those most in need.
 
The final proposal would define dangerousness in regulation and would provide comprehensive training around the dangerousness standard. Due to variances in how the dangerousness standard is interpreted, there is often uncertainty about whether an individual meets the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. However, by defining dangerousness and providing training to health care providers, this proposal will promote a more consistent application of the standard throughout the health care system.
 
These recommendations are further detailed in the workgroup report. The report, its appendices and other related documents can be viewed at the DHMH website under "Final Report” at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bhd/SitePages/Outpatient%20Services%20Programs%20Stakeholder%20Workgroup.aspx.
 

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Snow Hill, MD – The Worcester County Health Department is requesting mini-grant proposals from community-based organizations, workplaces, churches, or other interested organizations for youth teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention education: Promoting Health Among Teens-Comprehensive education (PHAT-C). To be eligible for up to $2,500 in grant funding, your program must be an organization which serves young people in Worcester County. Funded organizations will be expected to deliver the PHAT-C education program to a minimum of 12-15 Worcester County youth ages 12-19.

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Arboviruses, such as the EEE virus, are most common during the summer and fall months. The viruses are transmitted by infected mosquitoes and spread to humans, birds, horses and other animals. Since mosquitoes can breed in as little as a quarter inch of water, eliminating standing water is critical for the control of mosquito populations. Many factors impact when and where outbreaks occur, such as weather, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior.

The Worcester and Wicomico County Health Department provides the following tips to help prevent contact with mosquitoes and reduce risk of infection with EEE or other mosquito borne illnesses:

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Extreme Heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. In most of the United States, extreme heat is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. Remember that:

Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.

Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.

Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.

IF YOU ARE UNDER AN EXTREME HEAT WARNING:

  • Find air conditioning.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Watch for heat illness.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Check on family members and neighbors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car.

Learn more tips for staying cool and safe during extreme heat by clicking the image below

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