Lack of Free or Subsidized Mental Health Care and Substance Abuse Organizations

By William Clayton Donley III, CFCC Student Fellow 2015-2016

As a student in the Center for Families, Children and the Courts Student Fellows Program, I have had the opportunity to conduct research on the types of programs available for those in need of mental health care and substance abuse treatment. The research was tailored towards finding mental health care/substance abuse treatment that would be free or at least low-cost. However, as I progressed through my research I realized that in some counties, the amount of resources available for mental health care/substance abuse treatment that was free or low-cost was little to none.

Being relatively new to family law and social services networks, I was not sure what to expect when I began my fellowship with the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Child and the Courts. It became very clear to me that in some parts of Maryland, there is a lack of resources and organizations for low income individuals who suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues. This discovery startled me. I thought that for such a dire necessity the state of Maryland would have more resources tailored to addressing this problem. “Of Maryland’s over 5.7 million residents, more than 175,000 adults live with serious mental illness and about 62,000 children live with serious mental health conditions.”[1] This is a surprising statistic due to the fact that there are an abundant number of individuals who want to try and better their lives by trying to obtain housing and jobs, yet they are faced with another obstacle of having to seek affordable treatment for their mental health/substance abuse issues.

Throughout my schooling and work experience I have noticed a lack of resources tailored towards helping these types of individuals seek treatment.  Within CFCC we have focused on helping children with mental health issues.  Considering that “about 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders,”[2] there does not seem to be many options for a large number of these people.



2 thoughts on “Lack of Free or Subsidized Mental Health Care and Substance Abuse Organizations

  1. I found your research to be very interesting and also very depressing. Having grown up in the area and lived here for most of my life, i’ve seen a large number of friends and family suffer from addiction and mental illness. The lack of accessibility to these programs has certainly cost these people in many ways, some their lives. It’s especially saddening to learn that the large number of those with mental illness is known and yet it is not a priority to get assistance for these people or a general push to advertise the names and locations of the treatment centers that are in the area. It is another indicator that the priorities are in the wrong place in many counties.

  2. When I heard about this issue, I was stunned and disappointed. It is a shame that there are not more services to help those with mental illnesses. Mental illnesses can drastically impede a person’s ability to function and care for themselves and others. Even if every other resource is available to them, a person still may not be able to take advantage of such resources if they do not cope with their mental illness first. This is especially problematic in Baltimore, where so many children can develop mental illnesses through childhood trauma.

    I wonder if this lack of resources is due to a lack of awareness regarding mental illnesses. If so, perhaps this is an area where CFCC can help next semester.

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