Mental health services provided
Mental health services provided on outpatient basis
Substance use services provided
Substance use services provided on outpatient basis
Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) is a nonprofit that leads efforts to support behavioral health and wellness in Baltimore City. As the local behavioral health authority, we are the lead entity responsible for ensuring there is coordination and connections to other public service systems—like law enforcement, hospitals and schools—to promote access to behavioral health care and address social determinants of health. Our goal is to make Baltimore healthier by improving our system of care for individuals, families and communities affected by mental illness and substance use (collectively referred to as “behavioral health”).
We work to develop, implement and align resources, programs and policies that support the behavioral health and wellness of individuals, families and communities.
We envision a city where people thrive in communities that promote and support behavioral health and wellness.
Our work embodies these core values: Integrity, Equity, Innovation, Collaboration, Quality
BHSB’s Equity and Inclusion workgroup organizes learning opportunities that promote healing and courageous conversations to advance anti-racism
We envision a city where communities thrive and all residents have access to effective and culturally relevant behavioral health services. We recognize that to support our vision, we must understand and actively work to deconstruct systems of oppression within our city, our systems and our own organization. White supremacy and other systems of oppression are embedded in every aspect of life in America, causing untold harm and trauma across generations. In Baltimore, oppression and childhood trauma are major drivers of the high rates of mental illness and substance use. We are committed to becoming an actively antiracist organization and to dismantling systems of oppression that harm the people and communities we love.
BHSB President and CEO
Law enforcement are often the first people on the scene when someone is experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Recognizing this reality, BHSB collaborates with Baltimore City and the Baltimore Police Department to provide Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to better equip officers to support people experiencing behavioral health emergencies. This nationally recognized model has proven to keep people experiencing a behavioral health crisis out of jails and improve public safety. CIT gives officers the skills and resources to support people in crisis and ensure the safety of the officers, the person in crisis, and bystanders (photo of training at right).
CIT training was initially launched in the city in 2004, and content has been enhanced by BHSB and our partners as part of a broader effort to improve policing in Baltimore. The training is facilitated by a BHSB social worker in collaboration with the Baltimore Police Department, NAMI Baltimore and the City’s crisis service providers. During the 40-hour course, behavioral health experts provide officers with information about a range of topics, including psychiatric medications, substance use disorders, Alzheimer’s and autism. Since the updated training launched in August 2021, 51 officers have completed the CIT training.
We’re training our officers to be able to assess situations and make decisions about how to help someone who is having a behavioral health crisis. We have to educate them about behavioral health and make sure they know what kind of resources are out there, so they’re not arresting people who shouldn’t be arrested.
Baltimore Police Lieutenant JoAnne Wallace
Crisis Response Team Supervisor and CIT Training Facilitator
Baltimore’s Wellness and Recovery Centers offer a safe place and supportive communities to some of Baltimore’s most marginalized people, including those living with behavioral health disorders. At the centers, empathetic peer support specialists provide harm reduction services, and connection to treatment, employment and other support services. This year, the centers’ staff saw the devastating impact of the pandemic and adjusted their work to safely continue to provide critically needed care.
At Penn North, we are a community, and we work together as a team to help people access treatment and improve their lives. We just had a graduation of people who completed our treatment program. We helped them access housing, set up wellness goals and access mental health care. We build connections and those connections help people in their journey to recovery. Even if something happens, we always welcome people back with open arms. I have been doing this work for a long time and I love to see people do right.
Program Manager of Penn North
Wellness and Recovery Center
I love working here. Charm City Care Connection takes a harm reduction approach, meaning we’re noncoercive and we recognize that everyone has their own path. A lot of the people we serve are very marginalized and many feel like they have been left out and shunned. It’s rewarding to help them feel seen and do little things to put a smile on their face, like providing a shower and fresh set of clothes. Once we have built that connection and established that relationship, we can help them if they decide they want to enter treatment or access other services. For example, during the pandemic we were able to help a woman who was unhoused and used drugs have a safe place to be through our hotel program. We were able to offer safe supplies and peer support while she was at the hotel. After a few weeks she called us and said she wanted to enter treatment because she wanted to be there for her granddaughter. We helped her start treatment with suboxone, get an apartment and now we are helping her find employment.
Harm Reduction Coordinator at Charm City Care Connection
The pandemic dramatically changed the way behavioral health providers deliver care and provide services. To support providers to continue to meet the needs of those they serve, BHSB secured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for 61 providers, including:
masks, including 4,400 n95
Many people, especially people of color, may be hesitant to seek therapy because of the stigma associated with mental illness. In many Black communities in Baltimore, when there is a crisis, the first thing we do is go to our pastor or other trusted community member. HUT is a way for faith leaders to be able to hold conversations that are therapeutic but not therapy. These conversations help people work through their feelings, connect with each other and start their journey to healing.
BHSB Community Engagement Coordinator and HUT Co-Founder
You can’t make someone else whole until you are whole. HUT supports the development of the whole person – spiritual, emotional, social and mental. In our first HUT cohort of 10 participants, I was able to see how being part of the process helped participants open up. Participants were helped by being part of the cohort and that helped them help others. They were better able to help their loved ones and community members when they turned to them in times of crisis. Of our first cohort of 10 at Trinity Baptist Church, two people have helped people they care about who were feeling suicidal. I want to see this program grow so more people in our church and laypeople can be facilitators and have the tools to help those around them.
Reverend Dr. William Calhoun, Sr.
Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church of Baltimore
and HUT Facilitator
Healing Us Together (HUT) is a community-driven initiative that supports collective healing in Baltimore through facilitated community conversations that help people move from trauma to healing. HUT partners with Baltimore faith leaders and other community leaders to strengthen existing support systems and improve access to culturally appropriate conversations about mental health. HUT participants learn to facilitate community conversations through a 5-week group learning experience. HUT supports healing among participants by allowing them to understand the impact of their shared trauma and support each other towards collective healing. Once they have completed the learning experience, HUT participants can better support loved ones and community members by facilitating restorative conversations in a trauma informed manner.
HUT helps individuals realize that the trauma and adversity they have experienced is not at the individual level; it is collective. By creating an understanding of the impact of our shared trauma, we hope to support individuals and communities to move forward towards collective healing.
Paul Archibald,DrPH, LCSW-C, MAC.
HUT Co-Founder and Partner
Every September, BHSB organizes a community event and art project to celebrate National Recovery Month. In 2021 we hosted Recreating Our Destiny: Celebrating Recovery through Music and Art at Clifton Park. Over 300 people came together to celebrate recovery, learn more about behavioral health resources and enjoy musical performances and artistic expressions of recovery.
The pandemic disrupted the way we access health care, however, telehealth allowed providers to continue to provide essential behavioral health services while reducing risky in-person interactions. The use of technology was a godsend to many people who would have been otherwise isolated from their care providers. One of our top advocacy priorities this year was to ensure people continued to have access to these vital telehealth services.
The Parity at 10 Coalition, of which BHSB is a member, worked to pass the Preserve Telehealth Access Act through the Maryland General Assembly. The new law ensures that telehealth services can continue to be offered to Marylanders, no matter what kind of insurance they have. And it means more providers will continue to offer telehealth services.
Telehealth services reduce barriers to mental health and substance use disorder care in a very dramatic way. With telehealth, people don’t have to contend with transportation issues or taking time off for work or finding child care to get the health care they need. Telehealth has really helped providers link individuals to services immediately when they are in a crisis, and patients don't miss appointments when they are not well enough to visit their provider.
Vice President for Health Initiatives with the Legal Action Center and founder and convenor of the Parity at 10 Coalition
I was a co-sponsor of the Preserve Telehealth Act. This is a really important issue for behavioral health because the pandemic increased feelings of anxiety, depression and other behavioral health concerns for many people. Telehealth is an important tool to help people make it through and easily access care. I worked with the tremendous advocates at the Parity at 10 Coalition on the advocacy strategy for the bill. They helped identify someone to testify at the hearing who could speak to how telehealth access helped them care for their mental health during the pandemic. I got into this work because I want to do everything I can to make sure Marylanders have the opportunity to live to their full potential and have access to treatment when they need it.
Maryland State Senator Malcolm Augustine
Co-sponsor of the Preserve Telehealth Act
management and social service fees
management and general
Letitia Dzirasa, MD, Board Chair
Steve Sharfstein, MD, MPA, Vice Chair
Ryan Hemminger, Treasurer
Miriam Hutchins, JD, Secretary
Councilman John T. Bullock, PhD
Kevin Daniels, PhD, D MIN., MSW
Kirsten Downs, Esq.
David Fakunle, PhD
Corey D. Hatcher, Sr., Pastor
Nalini Negi, PhD, MSW
Monique J. Simms
Crista M. Taylor, President and CEO
Kathi Ruffin, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance
Lynn Mumma, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, Operations
Adrienne Breidenstine, Vice President, Policy and Communications
Denise Wheatly-Rowe, Vice President, Accountability
Steve Johnson, Vice President, Programs
Ayelet Gincel, Director, Human Resources