Mary­land De­part­ment of Health launches ‘MD Mind Health’

The Dundalk Eagle - - NEWS -

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Health (MDH) today an­nounced the launch of MD Mind Health, a new text-based men­tal health ini­tia­tive to fight iso­la­tion and en­cour­age men­tal well­ness.

The new pro­gram was de­vel­oped by the MDH Be­hav­ioral Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion (BHA) in part­ner­ship with Mary­land 211, the state’s cri­sis hot­line.

“Stay­ing con­nected with fam­ily, friends and other sup­port sys­tems is more chal­leng­ing, and more im­por­tant than ever,” said MDH Sec­re­tary Robert R. Neall. “In dif­fi­cult times, it can make a dif­fer­ence to know you’re not alone.”

Mary­land’s cri­sis hot­line saw a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in vol­ume in re­cent months, es­pe­cially in text mes­sages. From March 2019 to March 2020, text mes­sages in­creased by 842 per­cent; “chats” in­creased al­most 84 per­cent; and calls in­creased al­most 25 per­cent. Be­tween Fe­bru­ary 2020 (1,619 calls) and March 2020 (2,345 calls), calls to Mar yland 211 in­creased by 45 per­cent.

The MD Mind Health pro­gram is an ex­ten­sion of men­tal outreach pro­vided by BHA dur­ing the pan­demic. Texts sent through the pro­gram will not only pro­vide sup­port­ive men­tal health mes­sages, but also will re­mind re­cip­i­ents that im­me­di­ate ac­cess to men­tal health ser­vices is avail­able.

If in dis­tress, in­di­vid­u­als can call 211, chat through the 211 web­site, or text 898-211. All ac­tions will link the in­di­vid­ual to a call spe­cial­ist avail­able 24/7.

More than half of Amer­i­cans — 56 per­cent — sur­veyed by the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion in late April, re­ported that the coro­n­avirus out­break has caused them to ex­pe­ri­ence at least one neg­a­tive ef­fect on their men­tal health, such as prob­lems with sleep­ing or eat­ing, in­creased al­co­hol use, or wors­en­ing chronic con­di­tions. Even be­fore COVID-19, anx­i­ety ranked as one of the most com­mon men­tal health dis­or­ders glob­ally.

Text 898-211 to sign up for MD Mind Health to re­ceive en­cour­age­ment, re­minders and re­sources for stay­ing con­nected. Mes­sages in­clude tips about self-com­pas­sion and self-care, con­crete sug­gested ac­tions, rec­om­mended pod­casts and apps, in­spi­ra­tional quotes and in­for­ma­tion on how to find com­mu­nity re­sources and get help if needed.

“Phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing has left many feel­ing more alone and iso­lated, and these feel­ings can fuel sad­ness, de­pres­sion, crav­ings for sub­stances and re­lapse, neg­a­tive cop­ing skills, thoughts of sui­cide and other men­tal health prob­lems,” said Dr. Aliya Jones, Deputy Sec­re­tary for BHA.

“We must find healthy ways to re­spond. Even though we may not be see­ing as much of each other, we don’t have to feel alone. This tex­ting ini­tia­tive is an­other way to com­bat that.”

Text mes­sag­ing is a low-cost in­ter ven­tion that can reach in­di­vid­u­als across the state, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas with lim­ited ac­cess to some ser­vices. Tex­ting may be the best way to con­nect with teens and young adults, as sur­veys have in­di­cated it is a pre­ferred way to com­mu­ni­cate.

MD Mind Health uses the Preven­tion Pays Plat­form which is based on Car­ing Con­tacts, an ev­i­denced-based sui­cide preven­tion pro­gram. Car­ing Con­tacts sup­ple­ments stan­dard care by pro­mot­ing hu­man con­nect­ed­ness through car­ing mes­sages.

MD Mind Health is the lat­est in a grow­ing list of new and es­tab­lished re­sources BHA is pro­vid­ing and pro­mot­ing to sup­port be­hav­ioral health in the time of COVID-19. Re­sources de­vel­oped for the pub­lic also in­clude: a Re­cov­ery and Well­ness Re­source guide, a Deaf and Hard of Hear­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tion guide, PSAs on anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, and an ex­ten­sive list of we­bi­nars, sup­port groups, and info guides for clin­i­cians and the gen­eral pub­lic.

Peo­ple in cri­sis can get im­me­di­ate help by call­ing Mary­land’s cri­sis hot­line (211, press 1), the Na­tional Sui­cide Preven­tion Life­line (1-800-273-TALK), or SAMHSA’s na­tional emer­gency num­ber (1-800-273-8255).

Mary­land vet­er­ans can also en­roll in Oper­a­tion Roll Call (1-877-770-4801) — a pro­gram that of­fers reg­u­lar check-in calls and a chance to talk to some­one who can of­fer sup­por t.

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