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Maryland Mental Health Services Guide

Many people don't realize that publicly-funded mental health services are available in their state. People looking for free or low-cost counseling often think their only options are counselors in private practice and don't know that publicly-funded providers in their communities may also offer counseling services. 


While state-based programs are not for everyone, they are often a great place to start for people who face geographic or financial barriers to therapy. Intake specialists at community mental health programs can help people learn whether they qualify for state-funded services and can refer people who don't qualify to other low-cost programs that may be able to meet their needs.



When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?

Few mental health providers outside of those in the public sector are able to immediately serve people in crisis. This usually makes public mental health services the best option for anyone who is having a mental health crisis and needs help right away. The people who answer crisis lines can offer caring attention and support as they help people determine the best response to a crisis, whether it's inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.


In most cases, community mental health programs serve as alternative providers for people who lack the means to access services in the private sector. Maryland's system of publicly-funded non-profit providers does not have restrictive eligibility criteria for access to services, but it does have restrictive criteria for access to financial assistance. To find out how sliding-scale fees at your local community mental health center or outpatient clinic compare to sliding-scale fees for private providers, you can call one of the providers that serves your county.


According to SAMHSA, only 42 percent of people in Maryland who have mental health conditions receive any treatment for them. You can help change this statistic by calling local providers, core service agencies, or statewide mental health crisis or information lines to find out how to get the treatment you need. If you're not finding the care you need, you can search for free or low-cost local counselors on or try affordable online counseling at BetterHelp (a sponsor). The help you need may just be a call or a click away.


Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in Maryland?

Because private organizations operate the state's community mental health centers, Maryland does not have strict statewide eligibility requirements for admission to publicly-funded mental health programs. Instead, the state uses eligibility criteria to determine whether people receive public financial assistance and leaves clinical eligibility up to each individual provider.


The upside of this arrangement is that community mental health agencies and outpatient clinics in Maryland are accessible to a wide range of consumers, including people with moderate mental health conditions. The downside is that there are fewer ways to receive funding assistance for mental health services in Maryland than in other states. The only way to qualify for public funding in Maryland is to either qualify for Medicaid or for what the state calls "Uninsured Eligibility," which is also sometimes called the "gray area." To qualify for Uninsured Eligibility, a person must:


  • Be a United States citizen and a Maryland state resident
  • Require treatment for a covered behavioral health diagnosis
  • Have an income of 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or less
  • Not already be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or any other insurance
  • Have already applied for Medicaid, the Health Care Exchange, or other state benefits


Some exceptions are made to these requirements for people in the following categories:


  • Women who are pregnant
  • People who have HIV/AIDS
  • People who are under age 19
  • People who use injection drugs
  • Veterans with mental health conditions
  • People referred by a drug or probate court
  • People who are homeless in the state of Maryland
  • People who are in crisis or have an urgent need for mental health services
  • People who have received public mental health services in the last two years
  • People who have been released from a correctional facility in the last three months
  • People who have been discharged by an inpatient psychiatric or substance use disorder facility in the last three months


While these criteria are still somewhat restrictive, they allow people whose income level would otherwise disqualify them for Medicaid to receive public funding to access mental health services with low or no co-payments. Over 270 diagnoses are considered covered diagnoses in the public mental health system in Maryland, including depressive and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, dissociative disorders, trauma-related disorders, and psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. People who don't qualify for Medicaid or Uninsured Eligibility may still be able to receive services at publicly-funded providers for a discounted fee.


How Can You Find Out More About Local Programs in Maryland?

There are a few different ways you can learn about Maryland's public mental health programs. You can call the information line for Beacon, Maryland's  administrative service organization, at (800) 888-1965, call the Behavioral Health Administration at (410) 402-8300, or call the statewide crisis line at 211 or (800) 422-0009. You can also call one of the community mental health programs assigned to your county to directly inquire about their services. Most counties also have a dedicated local crisis line.


To find out which programs serve your area, you can use one of the directories or search tools on the Beacon or BHA websites. The BHA has a few different  directories listed on its site, including the national  SAMHSA certified treatment locator, which lists licensed treatment programs within a certain radius of a chosen city or county. Beacon has a  Find a Provider search tool on its site. 


Due to the complex nature of the Maryland public mental health system, none of these tools generate a full list of local providers. For your convenience, you can also review the list below, which has been compiled using information from local behavioral health authority sites, core service agency sites,  Network of Care listings, and the above search tools. It's a good idea to call to confirm that a listed provider covers people where you live, especially when a provider has multiple locations, as the above search tools don't distinguish which locations cover which service areas. You may also be able to get services at providers listed under neighboring counties.


Maryland Mental Health Clinics and Access Numbers



Allegany County


Anne Arundel County


Baltimore City



Baltimore County


Calvert County


Caroline County


Carroll County


Cecil County


Charles County


Dorchester County


Frederick County


Garrett County


Harford County


Howard County

  • Local Behavioral Health Authority: Howard County Health Department(Columbia)
    1. Main Number: (410) 313-7316 or (410) 313-6202
    2. Crisis Line: (410) 531-6677
  • Network of Care Provider Search and Listings for Howard County
  • Community Mental Health Agencies and Outpatient Clinics:
  • Alternative Counseling and Wellness Center (Towson, Ellicott City, Bel Air, Crofton, Silver Spring, and Baltimore): (410) 828-0101
  • American Psychiatric Care Clinic (Bel Air and Columbia): (410) 670-3076
  • American Psychiatric Group (Columbia): (410) 599-9977
  • Anne Arundel Counseling (Annapolis, Bowie, Centreville, Columbia, Edgewater, Glen Burnie, and Stevensville): (410) 768-5988
  • Chase-Brexton Behavioral Health Care (Baltimore, Columbia, Easton, Glen Burnie, and Randallstown): (410) 837-2050
  • Columbia Counseling Center (Columbia): (410) 992-9149
  • Community Behavioral Health:
    • Salisbury Clinic: (844) 244-5264 x12
    • Cambridge Clinic: (844) 224-5264 x13
    • Centreville Clinic: (844) 224-5264 x14
    • Columbia Clinic: (844) 224-5264 x17
    • Chestertown Clinic: (844) 224-5264 x1
    • Princess Anne Clinic: (844) 224-5264 x1
    • Snow Hill Clinic: (844) 244-5264 x720
  • Congruent Counseling Services (Columbia, Eldersburg, Millersville, and Towson): (410) 740-8066
  • Family and Children's Services (Columbia): (410) 997-3557
  • Focused Solutions (Columbia): (410) 884-6031
  • Healthcare Living for Families:
    • Windsor Mill Office (410) 701-7384
    • Eldersburg Office: (410) 701-7926
  • Innovative Therapeutic Services:
    • Laurel Office: (301) 604-1458
    • Hagerstown Office: (301) 393-3949
  • Key Point Health Services:
    • Aberdeen Clinic: (443) 625-1600
    • Dundalk Clinic: (443) 216-4800
    • Catonsville Clinic: (410) 788-0300
  • Life Renewal Services:
    • Westminster Center: (443) 289-8149
    • Columbia Center: (410) 387-2763
    • Tudsbury Center: (410) 277-8910
    • Saint Agnes Center: (410) 525-1105
  • Mosaic Community Services(Sheppard Pratt):
    • Baltimore Certified Community Behavioral Health Center: (410) 453-9553
    • Baltimore Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (443) 683-8053
    • Baltimore Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 256-3200
    • Behavioral Health Partners of Frederick: (301) 663-8263
    • Catonsville Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (443) 612-1402
    • Columbia Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (410) 740-1901
    • Gaithersburg Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (301) 840-3200
    • Hagerstown Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (301) 733-6063
    • Hunt Valley Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 777-9220
    • Jarrettsville Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 692-5292
    • Owings Mills Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 581-7804
    • Phoenix Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 666-4060
    • Randallstown Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (410) 453-9553
    • Rosedale Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (410) 574-7700
    • Timonium Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (410) 498-2603
    • Timonium Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (410) 683-3380
    • Towson Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic: (443) 921-4683
    • Westminster Outpatient Mental Health Clinic: (410) 751-5970
  • MPB Group:
    • Howard County Clinic (Columbia): (410) 431-0402
    • Prince George's County Clinic (Laurel): (301) 658-7710
  • Pro Bono Counseling Project (referral to area-wide private practices): (410) 825-1001
  • Psych Associates of Maryland (Columbia): (410) 290-6940


Kent County


Montgomery County


Prince George's County



Queen Anne's County


Somerset County


St. Mary's County


Talbot County


Washington County


Wicomico County


Worcester County


Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in Maryland. These federally-funded programs provide medical and mental health services to people in underserved communities. Their goal is to deliver high-quality coordinated care to people with complex needs and to link behavioral healthcare with primary medical care. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers sliding scale fees to people without insurance. You can search for FQHCs using the online search tool on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. 


How Does Maryland's Public Mental Health System Work?

In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. New laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. Many states' public mental health programs trace their origins back to this period. Maryland is no exception. 


After the federal Community Mental Health Act was passed in 1963, Maryland passed its own Community Mental Health Services Act in 1966 and established the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) in 1969. The purpose of these policies was to increase the number of community mental health programs in the state and to reduce hospitalization rates. There were less than ten community mental health programs in Maryland in 1969, but over 100 had been created by the mid-1970s. 


The Sheppard Pratt hospital system, which made Maryland a leader in mental health reforms when it was founded in the late 1800s, started to build clinics during this period. Sheppard Pratt made an even stronger push to develop community-based care during the 1990s. It now has over a dozen outpatient clinics as well as residential and crisis care facilities. Sheppard Pratt remains the state's largest and best-funded mental health treatment provider as well as the largest single non-profit mental health care provider in the nation, serving about 80,000 people a year.

The Maryland mental health department is called the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). The BHA has a central office as well as three types of regional offices: core service agencies, local addiction authorities, and local behavioral health authorities. None of these state offices directly provide services, but they oversee the programs that do and distribute state and federal mental health funds to them. The main difference between the three types of regional offices is whether they oversee mental health programs, substance use disorder treatment programs, or both. 


People can contact these offices to learn about mental health providers in their city or county and to find out whether they qualify for funding assistance. They can also contact these offices or the state's administrative service organization, Beacon, for referrals to local mental health providers. Providers are licensed by the state but operate independently, so eligibility criteria, the types of services available, and payment scales and options vary from program to program.

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