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Press Releases - County Council

Council expands funding for mental health crisis and intervention services to help meet rising demand related to COVID-19

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Calls to EveryMind’s Montgomery County hotline have increased by 25 percent

Rockville, Md., July 28, 2020--Today the Montgomery County Council approved a $395,000 special appropriation to the fiscal year 2021 budget to increase mental health services to residents through EveryMind’s Montgomery County hotline, which provides crisis intervention including suicide assessments, supportive listening and mental health resource referrals to residents. These services are provided through telephone, text and chat. Councilmembers Andrew Friedson, Gabe Albornoz and Will Jawando initiated this special appropriation which was sponsored by the full Council.  

“When we’re talking about a crisis hotline, we’re talking about things as serious and life-threatening as suicide ideation. Missing a call or missing a text means life or death,” said Councilmember Friedson. “This is a very small price to pay, and I think its just the beginning of what we’re going to need as we ramp up these efforts in our mental health services to meet the ongoing needs of our residents.”

Mental health supports are in great demand by County residents who are struggling with COVID-19 related challenges, such as unemployment, financial issues and isolation. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, EveryMind has experienced a 25 percent increase in call volume, which has remained steady through June. 

“The past several months have been extremely stressful for many residents and their families, as we navigate a new reality imposed by this pandemic,” said Councilmember Albornoz. “Expansion of this crisis hotline will serve as a lifeline for residents who experience an immediate crisis or need someone to talk to.  As chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, I will continue to support legislative measures that enhance the mental health and well-being for every member of our community. No one should suffer in silence.”

This funding will add eight, full-time specialists to staff the hotline through December 2020. The additional positions are needed to maintain the number of hotline shifts per week and double the staffing coverage because of the public health crisis. The expansion of text services from 8 a.m. until noon will also be provided for the remainder of the fiscal year with funding from this special appropriation.

“Last year, I introduced funding to expand the hours of support for the EveryMind crisis hotline, along with Councilmember Friedson,” said Councilmember Jawando. “The hotline provides confidential and objective support and saves lives every day.  The stress of home confinement, job loss and social isolation has taken a toll on many people and will only increase the longer the COVID-19 pandemic lasts. The Council will continue to support the critical services provided by EveryMind to meet the mental health needs of all Montgomery County residents.”

“EveryMind’s call, text and chat specialists have been on the front lines supporting members of our community experiencing stress and anxiety as well as significant loneliness and social isolation throughout the pandemic,” said Ann Mazur, chief executive officer of EveryMind.  “The Council appropriation will allow us to increase support for our neighbors as the added burdens of financial insecurity, illness, homeschooling and caregiving contribute to increased and prolonged stress, anxiety and loneliness.”

For sixty years, EveryMinds’ highly trained professional staff members have provided community education, advocacy and direct services to empower individuals to reach optimal mental wellness.  The Montgomery County hotline number is 301-738-2255. Community members can learn more about EveryMind at www.every-mind.org or send an email to info@Every-Mind.org. The organization is also on Twitter @EveryMindInc and Facebook @EveryMindInc.

The $395,000 special appropriation is part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to providing essential mental health resources to residents.  Last week, the Council approved nearly $600,000 to increase staffing for the county’s Mobile Crisis Teams that provide assistance to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Moreover, the Council approved a separate $250,000 special appropriation today for mental health services for students.

The Council staff report and the resolution needed to fund the special appropriation can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 20-333
Media Contact: Cindy Gibson 240-777-7828