Maryland 988 Crisis Hotline Initiative

Maryland 988 Crisis Hotline Initiative

Friday, December 10, 2021, 10:00 - 11:30 AM

“The instances of mental health crises and suicides have been trending upwards for more than a decade in the United States. This disturbing decline of American mental health has been accompanied by a recent re-evaluation of current emergency services, specifically police, in light of major events such as the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester and Walter Wallace in Philadelphia. In both cases, black men with a history of mental health issues faced an ill-equipped law enforcement response when someone called 911 for help.” Excerpt from Mindful Philanthropy/Sozosei Foundation’s article, Countdown to 988 Implementation: An Overview of 988 to Guide Urgent Philanthropic Action

In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission designated 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention and Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline. 988 is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Counselors at local crisis call centers answer the calls and provide free, confidential advice and emotional support for people in distress. It is not only about answering calls but also about providing connection to community mental health and substance use services at critical moments for people across the country. The aim of 988 is to improve access to behavioral health care through an easy-to-remember number that people can call for a range of needs, including crisis.

This fall, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg stated, “We’re going to continue to fight for sustained funding for a mental health crisis response system that includes mobile crisis teams and appropriate follow-up care. Our jails and emergency rooms can no longer be our primary treatment for people in crisis.” California has taken a lead to provide $20 million to help support the 988 network. Maryland can follow their lead! The MD988 Fund Campaign is working to secure dedicated funding to support the continuum of behavioral health crisis services to meet Maryland’s needs. Hospitals are overwhelmed with delivering acute mental health and psychiatric care. This is an opportunity to transform this behavioral health crisis response – We need to invest in this – let’s get together to advocate to pass this in MD!

Join Maryland Philanthropy Network's Health Funders Affinity Group and the Affinity Group on Aging for the third conversation in our mental health series. Speakers will include Daniel Rabbitt, MSW who is the Policy Director, at Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) in Partnership at Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore (BHSB), Adrienne Breidenstine, MSW the Vice President of Policy & Communications at Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore (BHSB) and Alyson Niemann, MPA , the Chief Operating Officer and Interim Executive Director of Mindful Philanthropy.

This distinguished panel will share their expertise and intense work to create and sustain a 988 mental health crisis hotline. Together we will explore national and state models and their funding supports, the development plan for the initiative, and learn about Maryland’s need to implement and advocate for its urgency at the 2022 Legislative session. This is a call to action – 988 is not just a phone number – it is a proactive resource for people reaching out for help.

This program is for Maryland Philanthropy Network members and invited guests only.



As a leader, strategist, and change agent, Alyson Niemann, MPA brings 20 years of nonprofit and global experience to her work including launching, scaling and restructuring initiatives for greater missional impact in countries across the globe. Alyson is a seasoned executive whose skills include program development, strategic planning, financial oversight, executive management, public speaking, and leadership development. 

Alyson holds the position of Chief Operating Officer at Mindful Philanthropy, a nonprofit focused on activating funding toward mental health, addiction and community well-being. In this role, she strives to create a thriving and equitable culture through effective talent management and transparent financial systems while also overseeing marketing, communications, risk management and development to help release high impact funding for mental health.

Alyson earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Price School of Business at the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Public Administration from the Robert F Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Alyson also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where she teaches nonprofit management.

Adrienne Breidenstine, MSW  is Vice President of Policy and Communications. She directs the development of communications and policy and advocacy activities for Behavioral Health System Baltimore, coordinates BHSB’s policy priorities with non-profit and governmental partners, implements media, public education and advocacy campaigns to create positive behavior and policy change, and oversees the implementation of the Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) Partnership.

Adrienne has over 15 years’ experience with health and housing policy and helped shape policy reforms as it relates to homelessness and health care policy at the federal and local level. Prior to joining BHSB, Adrienne served as the Executive Director of the Journey Home for the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Human Services where she led the implementation of the Journey Home, Baltimore’s plan to end homelessness. In this role she established the first-ever performance management approach to track and evaluate progress to implement The Journey Home and launched the Mayor’s Veteran Homelessness Challenge, a community collaborative that permanently housed over 600 Veterans in 2015. Adrienne received a master’s degree in social work, with a concentration in social action and community development, from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She lives in Ellicott City with her husband, son, cat, chickens and goats.

Daniel Rabbitt, MSW is the Policy Director for the Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) Partnership here at BHSB. As Policy Director for GBRICS, Dan works closely with the Maryland General Assembly and other state leaders to advance policies that will build an effective and sustainable behavioral health crisis system. He also staffs the GBRICS community engagement committee and plays a leading role in building trusted relationships with community partners across the Baltimore region.

Dan brings over a decade of health policy experience to the role. Prior to joining BHSB, Dan was a Senior Policy Manager at Heartland Alliance, a leading anti-poverty organization based in Chicago, IL. In Chicago, he led many campaigns to draft and pass bills to improve Medicaid, prevent overdose, expand mental health services and more at all levels of government. Prior to Heartland Alliance, Dan worked on federal health policy at Health Care for the Homeless. In whatever Dan does, he brings a passion for justice and a belief that we can achieve the social change our communities need thrive. He is thrilled to be helping to lead an ambitious initiative such as GBRICS and looks forward to the day when behavioral health needs are treated with the same urgency as other health needs. Dan earned his Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland in 2010 and lives in Columbia, MD with his partner, daughter, and several critters.



Event type: 
Funding Area: