In 2017, the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition (BHC) led an impressive “Keep the Door Open” advocacy effort to increase funding for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. The funding was included in the bipartisan 2017 HOPE Act, which was signed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
However, when this year’s proposed budget was released in January, nearly $8 million of funding was cut from behavioral health providers. With support from The Hatcher Group, the coalition quickly mobilized to engage key Maryland media outlets to highlight the consequences of the cut.
The coalition’s “rapid-response” statement was covered by the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post and the Associated Press. By quickly highlighting the budget cut and getting the attention of legislative leaders, the Coalition made a strong case to restore the much-needed funding and will be working during the 90-day General Assembly session to do just that.
The BHC launched the “Keep the Door Open” campaign in 2015 to promote increasing access to behavioral health services. With more than 50 member organizations, the coalition has considerable grass-roots support and legislative influence. Every February, the coalition holds a large rally outside the Maryland State House and typically attracts close to 500 attendees. This year, the coalition’s legislative agenda focuses on restoring the budget cuts, increasing access to crisis services and improving the quality of behavioral health treatment patients receive in primary care. Find about more about the Keep the Door Open campaign at http://keepthedooropenmd.org/