Behavioral Health Advisory Council Could Come To Frederick County

It would result from the merger of two citizens councils.

Frederick, Md (KM) Two long time citizens councils could be merged. During Tuesday’s meeting, the Frederick County Council listened to a proposal from the Health Department to join together the Mental Health Advisory Committee and the Substance Abuse Advisory Council into a Behavioral Health Advisory Council.

“Currently, we have those two separate groups. And we believe that by forming one single Behavioral Health Advisory Council that is allowed per statute that we’ll combining the forces and leveraging the contributions from the committee members and collective knowledge to help our community,”: said Health Officer Doctor Barbara Brookmyer.

She also said the two areas of mental health and substance abuse are often related. “The current standard of care which really pre-dates the 2000’s, is to have combined mental and substance use disorder,” she said.

Sarah Drennan, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Services of the Health Services Division, said some of the membership will consist of persons who have experienced mental health issues and substance abuse. “At least half of the voting members are from among individuals with lived experience, or others from the general public or the Mental Health Association also,” she says.

Other members, nominated by the County Executive, could include the Superintendent of Schools or a designee; the Director of the Department of Social Services, or the Director’s designee;  practicing physicians;  behavioral health professionals who are not physicians;  the clergy;  the legal profession;  head of a local law enforcement agency or a designee;  the hospital;  the Director of the Department of Aging;  the Director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, or designee.

The Council Council has pick two individuals two  individuals who have received or are receiving behavioral health services; parents or other relatives of adults with behavioral health disrobers; parents or relatives of adolescents with emotional or behavioral or mental health disorders which occurred in childhood or adolescence; the Frederick County Mental Health Association; and a member of the general public.

Councilwoman MC Keegan-Ayer said the Behavioral Health Advisory Council doesn’t have a Council member. “There is a representative of the County Council who’s a voting member of both of these other committees, and yet you did not include them,” she said. “Is there is a reason, or was it just an oversight? Or could we add that as one of the ex-officio members?”

The Health Department says it was an oversight.

Council President Brad Young said he wanted a member of the School System on the Council “This School System should be a required member of this Council representing 45,000 students and the issues and the amount of mental health aspects that are there,” he said.

The legislation setting up this Behavioral Health Advisory Council is expected to be formally introduced to the County Council at a future date after it undergoes some revisions.

According to the bill, the duties of this Behavioral Health Advisory  Council includes  monitoring, reviewing and evaluating the allocation and adequacy of publicly funded behavioral health services in the County; and determine the needs of the county’s behavioral health system, including the quality of services, gaps in the system and interagency coordination.

By Kevin McManus