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Designated as a region rather than a city, Bethesda is one of the most educated and affluent areas in the United States, according to CNN and Forbes. The area is located in Montgomery County and is home to 60,858 residents1. In addition to the natural beauty and historical features of the region, nearby Washington DC also provides many attractions for area residents. Many government offices and government contractors have business in Bethesda, including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health.

Mental Health Statistics
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2.9% of Montgomery County residents reported using illicit drugs, excluding marijuana, and 3.4% used prescription pain relievers for nonmedical purposes within a 30-day period between 2006 and 2008. In this same period, 20.92% of area residents reported engaging in binge drinking, and 7.3% reported having an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem2. Further reports indicated that of all county residents, approximately 11% had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, 17% received a diagnosis of depression3, and 20% experienced poor mental health for two or more days out of any given month in 20104.

Bethesda Offers HOPE to Residents with Mental Illness
The Mental Health Association (MHA) provides behavioral health services to all residents in the Bethesda region. The department focuses on helping to restore family relationships and works to help all residents maintain dignity and independence. For example, their Adult Homeless Mental Health Division provides case management and a continuum of care to homeless individuals. They facilitate access to shelter programs and help individuals through the process of transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing, while ensuring their mental health needs are being met.

In an effort to strengthen families, the Families Foremost Center (FFC) offers a wide menu of services to pregnant women and parents with children under the age of four. Parents can improve their employment skills and learn valuable parenting tools, and literacy, learning, and support services are all offered at the FFC.

Red Flags is a school-based program that educates students on how to recognize the signs of suicidal behavior and depression. The Voices Versus Violence (VVV) program focuses on reducing violence in families and throughout the community through school-based anti-aggression and anti-bullying campaigns. Their affiliate program, Voices 2Epower Project, takes this message to youth involved in the juvenile justice system so that they can learn more adaptive ways to cope with mental health issues. In addition, the MHA offers Mental Health First Aid as a way to help all residents recognize and understand mental health issues.

In an effort to facilitate the continued social involvement and health of elderly, home-bound residents, the MHA created the Friendly Visitor Program. Community volunteers receive training through this program and are then matched with an elderly resident. Together they develop a bond that improves the quality of life for the elderly person and instills empathy and understanding in the volunteer.

The Hotline, Outreach & Programming for Emotional Support program (HOPES) is another way that Bethesda area residents can receive needed care. HOPES provides a free telephone hotline staffed by trained professionals. The hotline addresses every mental health issue and serves as a crisis and suicide prevention tool5.

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2013). State & County QuickFacts. Retrieved from

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Substate Estimates from the 2006-2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from

3 Healthy Montgomery Steering Committee. (2012). Healthy Montgomery Behavioral Health Work Group: Montgomery County Behavioral Health Profile. Retrieved from

4 Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (2013). Percent of Maryland Citizens Who Reported at Least 28 of the Last 30 Days as Mentally Healthy (based on BRFSS) for 2010. Retrieved from

5 Mental Health Association. (2013). Direct Services: MHA Programs. Retrieved from