July 1, 2014, was a noteworthy day in the history of Maryland's pubic mental health system. On that day, the oversight and management of the state's public mental health and public substance use systems were brought together in the newly established Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). The BHA is responsible for the delivery of public behavioral health services (mental health and substance use) throughout the state. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has tried to make this merger as seamless as possible for Marylanders who are receiving either/both mental health and substance use services. Changes will mostly occur in the realms of administration and financing.
The merger will have the positive effect of better addressing the needs of individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Typically treatment for these conditions has not been well integrated. In the winter of 2013, MCF held focus groups with families of youth with co-occurring disorders; nearly two-thirds reported that their child's treatment had not been integrated. We know that the most effective treatment for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders is concurrent treatment that addresses both needs at the same time, with one treatment plan. The merger of MHA with ADAA will facilitate the implementation of integrated treatment.