Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today released its Student and Young Adult Resource Guide for Coping During COVID-19. MDH’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) created the guide in response to mounting evidence that the pandemic is having a negative impact on youth behavioral health, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and increased mental health-related emergency room visits

“This pandemic has been life altering for everyone, but especially for young people whose education, social growth and life plans have been largely put on hold,” said MDH Acting Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “We believe Maryland’s youth are resilient and adaptable, but they need support and we want to ensure they have access to the appropriate resources.”

BHA’s new guide provides an expansive and evolving list of behavioral health resources for Maryland youth, including for mental health, suicide prevention, grief and loss support, and substance use issues. The guide outlines tips for self-care, how to recognize if someone is experiencing a crisis, signs that someone may be contemplating suicide, and how to get immediate help. 

Nationally, as many as one in three people reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression; the response reached 48 percent for ages 18 to 29. More than 13 percent of people have started or increased substance use to cope with stress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Maryland, non-fatal overdose incidents for youth and young adults, which were down overall for 2020 in comparison to previous years, increased 15 percent between the second and third quarter of 2020, according to preliminary data from the Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients. 

“While all Marylanders are encouraged to seek support before they reach a crisis point, resource awareness for young people is especially important because they are often less likely to recognize when they should ask for help,” said BHA Deputy Secretary Dr. Aliya Jones. “We want to make sure that families are reminded to provide mental health support to the young people in their households, to know what symptoms to look for and to know where to go for helpful resources.”  

The resource guide is being distributed through various state and community-based behavioral health partners, including the MDH Developmental Disabilities Administration, the Maryland State Department of Education Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Maryland Department of Labor, the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services and the Maryland Association of Behavioral Health Authorities.

BHA’s Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Services division is also conducting outreach through several existing programs and collaborative partnerships including Maryland’s Healthy Transitions, Maryland Early Intervention Program, Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care, Mind Resilience, which is an online wellness resource for educators and organizations, and BHA’s Adolescent Clubhouses, which are recovery support programs for Maryland youth receiving treatment for substance use disorders.

For COVID-19 guidance specific to behavioral health, visit bha.health.maryland.gov/Pages/bha-covid-19

To learn more about COVID-19 in Maryland, visit covidlink.maryland.gov.


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