Expanding Mental Health Services in Howard County | WYPR

Expanding Mental Health Services in Howard County

Jun 20, 2014

Credit Joe Houghton/flickr

It’s been six months since the shooting at the Mall in Columbia on January 25 that took the lives of two mall employees: 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. The shooter, 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar, shot and killed himself.  

A couple months later, it was discovered that Aguilar had been searching online for mental health resources…at the same time he was acquiring a shotgun and ammunition. There are many county residents who don’t follow Aguilar’s path – but are in need of help with mental health issues.  

That led Howard County to look at its existing services in an effort to get more people connected to appropriate treatment. This month Howard County introduced several initiatives to expand and coordinate mental health services for its residents. How can more treatment, better treatment, help to prevent mental health crises that have become all too common? 

With Sheilah Kast in the studio to discuss the issue is Donna Wells, the Executive Director of the Howard County Mental Health Authority. And joining the conversation by phone is Howard County Police Chief William McMahon and Dr. Maura Rossman, Health Officer for the Howard County Health Department. 

Chief McMahon is retiring on June 30 after a 30-year career in policing. He spent 8 years leading Howard County's Police Department. At the end of this interview, he tells us what he's most proud of over the course of his career.

As mentioned during this interview, in 2008 Maryland Morning aired a series called "Frames of Mind." One of the first segments was about mental health first aid. You can listen to that  entire segment below.