Organized in July 2008 as Behavioral Health and Disabilities, Behavioral Health adopted its present name in October 2014 (Chapter 539, Acts of 2014).

Formerly Behavioral Health had been headed by a Deputy Secretary responsible for three administrations: Alcohol and Drug Abuse; Developmental Disabilities; and Mental Hygiene. However, in July 2014, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration merged with the Mental Hygiene Administration to form the Behavioral Health Administration (Chapter 460, Acts of 2014), and, in October 2014, the Developmental Disabilities Administration separated from Behavioral Health (Chapter 539, Acts of 2014).

Today, the Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health oversees the Behavioral Health Administration.


Dix Building, Dogwood Circle, Spring Grove Hospital Center
55 Wade Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228

The Behavioral Health Administration was created from the merger of two older agencies: the Mental Hygiene Administration, and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration.

The Mental Hygiene Administration originated in 1886 as the State Lunacy Commission (Chapter 487, Acts of 1886). The Commission inspected public and private institutions for the insane and advised their boards of managers. In 1922, the Commission was replaced by the Board of Mental Hygiene (Chapter 29, Acts of 1922). The Board, in turn, was superseded by the Department of Mental Hygiene in 1949 (Chapter 685, Acts of 1949). Not only was the Board of Mental Hygiene abolished in 1949, but so also were the separate governing boards of the State mental hospitals. In that year, the Department of Mental Hygiene became responsible for the custody, care, and treatment of mentally ill persons. The Department of Mental Hygiene became part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in 1969 and subsequently reorganized as the Mental Hygiene Administration (Chapter 77, Acts of 1969). In July 2008, the Administration moved under the Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Disabilities (Chapter 661, Acts of 2008).

The other agency from which the Behavioral Health Administration evolved was the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration, which started as two separate agencies: one concerned with alcoholism and the other with addiction to narcotics. The Drug Abuse Authority, formed in 1969, was succeeded in 1971 by the Drug Abuse Adminstration (Chapter 404, Acts of 1969; Chapter 29, Acts of 1971). Thereafter, the Division of Alcoholism Control of the former Mental Health Administration became the Alcoholism Control Adminstration in 1976 (Chapter 746, Acts of 1976). By departmental organization in 1987, the Drug Abuse Administration and the Alcoholism Control Administration merged to form the Addictions Services Administration. In 1988, the Administration was renamed the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (Chapter 758, Acts of 1988).

In July 2014, the Mental Hygiene Administration merged with the Alcohol and Drug Administration to reform as the Behavioral Health Administration (Chapter 460, Acts of 2014; Code Health-General Article, secs. 7.5-101 through 7.5-204).

The Behavioral Health Administration oversees Maryland's Public Mental Health System by planning, setting policy, and allocating resources. To ensure that Marylanders receive appropriate treatment, the Administration provides mental health services in the community through core service agencies and State institutions (Code Health - General Article, secs. 10-201 through 10-208).

Core Service Agencies. Under authority of the Secretary of Health, a core service agency is designated by each county government to plan, manage, and monitor the delivery of publicly funded mental health services in the county (Code Health-General Article, secs. 10-1201 through 10-1203).

State Institutions. Under the Behavioral Health Administration are five psychiatric hospitals. The Administration also is responsible for two residential treatment centers for youth.

Mental Health Crisis Response System. Within the Mental Hygiene Administration, the Maryland Mental Health Crisis Response System formed in October 2002 (Chapter 371, Acts of 2002). The System became part of the Behavioral Health Administration in July 2014.

Through the Mental Health Crisis Response System, the Behavioral Health Administration consults with family members, and consumers and advocates of mental health services to develop a statewide network to respond to the current mental health crisis. To reduce threatening situations involving those needing mental health services, the network provides assistance to prevent suicides, homicides, arrests, and unnecessary hospitalizations. This assistance includes a hotline for suicide prevention, treatment referrals, telephone assistance for mental information, and even transportation of patients to emergency appointments. The network coordinates its work with core service agencies (local health departments), police, emergency medical personnel, and mental health providers.

The Executive Director of Behavioral Health heads the Administration, and reports to the Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health (Code Health-General Article, secs. 7.5-202 through 7.5-204). Appointed by the Secretary of Health, and with the Secretary's approval, the Executive Director of Behavioral Health is empowered to make State grants-in-aid to further community mental health services (Chapter 125, Acts of 1966). The Executive Director supervises programs receiving these grants-in-aid. Local mental health advisory committees also are authorized for each county and Baltimore City (Code Health-General Article, secs. 10-308 through 10-312).

The Administration's work is carried out through five divisions: Behavioral Health Facilities; Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Services; Clinical Services Adults and Older Adults; Service Access and Practice Innovation; and Systems Management. Also, one office, Finance and Fiscal Management. reports directly to the Executive Director.


The Office of Data and Information Technology collects, processes, and reports statistical information related to patterns in alcohol and drug abuse, and assessment of treatment programs; and assisted other divisions with data, research, and computerized information systems. All certified providers of public and private treatment and assessors of driving while intoxicated (DWI) report monthly data to the Office. The Administration's website is maintained by this office, which also publishes reports and newsletters.


Within the Behavioral Health Administration, Operations had formed by May 2023.


Finance and Fiscal Management was initiated as the Management Services Division. Under Operations, it reformed as the Office of Finance, Grants, and Procurement in July 2014. It adopted its present name when Operations' functions were transferred to the Chief of Staff in January 2017. It later moved back under Operations.

Funds for substance abuse treatment and prevention statewide are awarded and monitored by Finance and Fiscal Management. Further, the office manages internal operations for the Behavioral Health Administration, prepares the Administration's budget, and develops the annual federal block grant application.


Under the Behavioral Health Administration, Policy and Planning started as Operations in July 2014. It adopted the name of Systems Management in July 2017. By January 2024, it was renamed Policy and Planning.


Formerly under the Alcohol and Drug Administration.


The Office of Workforce Development and Technology Transfer started as the Office of Education and Training for Addiction Services in 1976. Under the Behavioral Health Administration, the Office restructured as the Office of Workforce Development and Training in July 2014 within Population-Based Behavioral Health, which was renamed Health Promotion and Prevention in July 2017. The Office, in January 2019, was renamed the Office of Workforce Development and Technology Transfer. The Office was renamed Workforce Development by August 2023.

Public and private agency personnel who treat addicts and work to prevent addiction are trained and educated by the Office of Workforce Development and Technology Transfer. The Office also helps devise curriculum, and evaluates college and university courses on how to treat and prevent addiction.


Within the Behavioral Health Administration,Prevention and Promotion formed first as Population-Based Behavioral Health in July 2014. It reorganized in July 2017 as Health Promotion and Prevention, and in January 2019, as Service Access and Practice Innovation. By January 2024, it restructured under its present name.

Prevention and Promotion is responsible for four main units: Prevention, Public Awareness, Statewide Projects, and the Office of Workforce Development and Technology Transfer. It also oversees the Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling.


Functions of Primary Behavioral Health and Early Intervention started as Child and Adolescent Services under the Mental Health Administration in 1984. At that time, Child and Adolescent Services oversaw and coordinated mental health services for children and adolescents within the Public Mental Health System, and was responsible for two residential treatment centers for youth: the Regional Institutes for Children and Adolescents in Baltimore and Rockville. Under the Behavioral Health Administration, Child and Adolescent Services restructured as Children's Services in July 2014, and Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Services in 2017. By January 2024, it was renamed Primary Behavioral Health and Early Intervention.

Four units are overseen by Primary Behavioral Health and Early Intervention: Early Childhood Mental Health; Early Intervention; School-Aged Programming; and Transition-Aged Youth and Young Adult Services.


In July 2014, Treatment and Recovery began as Clinical Services under the Behavioral Health Administration. In July 2017, it became Clinical Services Adults and Older Adults. By January 2024, it received its present name.

Clinical Services Adults and Older Adults evaluates the network of services funded by the Behavioral Health Administration to ensure that such services meet the needs of Marylanders with mental health conditions, substance-related disorders, or co-occurring conditions and disorders.


Gender-Specific Services originated as Women's Services, but adopted its current name in July 2017.

For women and their families, Gender-Specific Services develops and coordinates comprehensive treatment and recovery substance-related disorders services. For pregnant women and women with dependent children, contracts for residential treatment services are managed by Gender-Specific Services. This office also provides technical assistance to local health departments and treatment providers.



Crisis Programs and Criminal Justice Services began in 1991, when the Mental Hygiene Administration established the Office of Special Needs Populations. When the Behavioral Health Administration formed in July 2014, the Office was reorganized as Special Populations and placed within the Office of Adult and Specialized Behavioral Health Services under Clinical Services. In July 2017, when Clinic Services reformed as Clinical Services Adults and Older Adults, Special Populations joined with Treatment and Recovery Services to create Crisis Prevention, Criminal Justice Treatment and Diversion. In December 2020, it restructured as Crisis and Criminal Justice Services. It received its current name by January 2024.

Crisis and Criminal Justice Services oversees federal grants which address the mental health needs of certain populations. The Office plans, coordinates, and monitors mental health services for individuals who are incarcerated, homeless, deaf or hard of hearing, victims of natural or man-made disasters, or have co-occurring mental disorders and substance abuse issues. The Office also serves veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wars who have behavioral health needs.

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