Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness and educate individuals about mental illness and the importance of one’s mental health. Ultimately, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and equip individuals with tools and resources for attaining mental health and wellness. It’s important to note that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that while 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental health condition each year, less than half will access treatment. (www.nami.org)
HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM) is addressing the stigma that is put on mental illness each day with the work that we do. HCAM’s Here2Help Hotline, a collaborative effort with Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. (BCRI), Baltimore Child & Adolescent Response System (BCARS), Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) and HCAM, connects Baltimore City residents with crisis services through BCRI and information and treatment referral services through HCAM. The Here2Help Hotline is breaking down barriers and providing an environment free of judgement for individuals to reach out for mental health and crisis services.
Get to know our team members who are answering the phones and how they help Baltimore City community members through the Here2Help Hotline:
What is the overall goal of the Here2Help Hotline?
Abby: Our primary goal is to connect callers who receive Medicaid and who are interested in therapy or substance use treatment to a provider. We make the calls to the providers with the caller on the phone, if they are comfortable, and follow up with the caller to help ensure they make their appointment. Our partners at Baltimore Crisis Response are also available 24/7 for those experiencing more immediate needs.
The other great thing about the Here2Help Hotline is that since it is embedded in HealthCare Access Maryland, we can also connect callers to other departments within our agency to help with other needed insurance benefits and resource needs.
What are some of the services that people are seeking when they call the Here2Help Hotline?
Abby: People call the Here2Help Hotline for various reason- seeking mental health or substance use services, housing, BGE assistance, food assistance, and other resources. Our primary purpose is to connect those seeking mental health or substance use services that are Medicaid recipients or eligible for Medicaid to a provider that fits their needs.
Abby joined HCAM as the Here2Help Hotline Program Manager in November 2020. Previously, Abby worked with CPS involved families and foster youth as a clinician. Prior to that, she worked on Health Policy in the Hawaii Governor’s Office. She has a Master’s in Social Work from Boston College, and a Master’s in Public Health from Yale University.
What can callers expect when they reach out to the Here2Help Hotline?
Jacqueline: Individuals that call the Here2Help Hotline can expect competent, supportive, and knowledgeable professionals who actively listen and coordinate services that meet their individualized needs. Individuals that call in will not be judged when they contact the Here2Help Hotline for assistance with getting connected to services.
Jacqueline has been with HCAM for five and a half years and has served as a Behavioral Health Treatment Coordinator since November 2018.
Tell us about a client that you connected to services recently.
CherRae: I recently spoke with a young pregnant woman who was referred to the Here2Help Hotline by HCAM’s Care Coordination team. During our call, we talked about how she had been feeling over the past few weeks. To best understand her need for mental health help, I asked her about whether she had seen a therapist before and if she had ever received a diagnosis for a behavioral health condition. After listening to how she was feeling and her past experience with mental health care, I helped her connect to a virtual therapist that would be able to provide her with the support she felt she needed.
CherRae is a Behavioral Health Treatment Coordinator and has been working with the Here2Help Hotline for three years.
What is something that you would want the community to know about seeking mental health services?
Taryn: I would want the community to know that they should not be embarrassed or ashamed for seeking mental health services. We all have peaks and pits in life (our highs and lows) and sometimes a listening ear and learning how to process our emotions can work wonders. Our mental health is just as important as any other aspect in our life and there is nothing wrong with making it a priority. Don’t be afraid to take the small steps. The small steps still lead to big progress.
Taryn is a Behavioral Health Treatment Coordinator and has been working with the Here2Help Hotline since October 2020.
If you or someone you know would like to be connected to mental health or crisis services, please reach out to the Here2Help Hotline: 410-433-5175
Interested in learning more about the Here2Help Hotline?