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Community-based mental health care providers can't do it alone

Over 140,000 adults and children with mental illness are served by community-based mental health care providers in Maryland. With the right mix and amount of services and supports, the great majority of these individuals recover from their illness and go on to live quiet, successful lives in the community.

As providers we are proud of the critical role we play in helping those who are struggling not only with a devastating illness, but too often with poverty, homelessness and social isolation. However, we cannot do it alone.

Years of flat or reduced budgets have left us struggling to attract qualified workers and hampered our ability to invest in electronic health records and other technologies that increase our efficiency and ability to create positive outcomes for patients.

Meanwhile, the stigma attached to people with mental illness continues to plague our efforts and those of the clients we serve.

Fortunately there is a growing understanding of the inter-connectedness of mind and body and an increasing acceptance of the fact that mental illness can happen to anyone.

As providers we look forward to working with policymakers and communities to build on and improve the supports and services available to those with mental illness.

Lori Doyle, Catonsville

The writer is public policy director for the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

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