Maryland leaders discuss local mental health needs

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The commission's purpose is to explore new ways to bring better mental health services to Maryland residents.

GERMANTOWN, Md. (WDVM) – The Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland met in Germantown Wednesday to discuss how to meet local health needs.

Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford led the discussion among the commission. The commission’s purpose is to explore new ways to bring better mental health services to Maryland residents.

“It’s long past time that we take a real, fresh look at this. We’re here to listen to practitioners, families, individuals who may be suffering, those who are working on the front lines in this area to hear their suggestions and to point out the challenges that we have,” said Rutherford.

Rutherford also says he’s learned the importance of looking at the bigger picture when it comes to mental health on an individual level.

“Up until the last few years, I saw mental health issues and substance use disorders as separate issues. Maybe 50 percent of the people with mental health issues also have substance use disorder,” he added.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich touched on stories specific to our area.

“I’ve talked with groups of high school students who deal with levels of depression and stress that I’ve never even seen, that most people have never seen,” he said.

Elrich thinks this is an issue everyone can get behind.

“This is a bipartisan problem. I can’t point to any administration that fully addressed these issues. It’s time for us to face this. What’s it gonna take, what resources, we need to do the right thing for these people? Because ultimately it’s going to be the right thing for our community,” said Elrich.

Rutherford says he hopes the work of the commission can also help break down stigmas surrounding mental health.

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