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Stephen T. Baron, MSW

Knee-Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo of Stephen T. Baron

Stephen T. Baron, MSW, is the former Director of the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health where he led the development and management of the public mental and substance use disorder treatment services and supports. The Department of Behavioral Health provides emergency psychiatric care, community based services and support to about 30,000 residents, and includes a network of private mental health rehabilitation services and substance abuse treatment providers, unique government services, and Saint Elizabeths Hospital—the District’s inpatient psychiatric facility.

Mr. Baron was appointed Director of the Department of Mental Health in 2006 by the District of Columbia mayor. He was reappointed by two mayors in 2007 and 2011, and served until the merger of the Department with the Addiction Prevention Recovery Administration in October 2013. He was appointed the first Director of the newly established Department of Behavioral Health. As the first Director of the Department of Behavioral Health, Mr. Baron increased provider capacity to identify co-occurring disorders and established a single certification process. He also launched the Health Homes initiative to increase the integration of behavioral health and primary health care.

Mr. Baron led the Department of Mental Health to implement initiatives that increased access to care and expanded the range of available services, including emergency mobile crisis services, an urgent care clinic at Superior Court for on the spot access to mental health treatment, and evidence-based programs for children proven to make a difference. In partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department, he started crisis intervention training on the most appropriate response to people with mental illness. Under his leadership, the Department ended the 37-year court oversight of the District’s mental health services as well as ending a Department of Justice Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) case against Saint Elizabeths Hospital.

Before joining District government, Mr. Baron was President of Baltimore Mental Health Systems, Inc. (BMHS) for 17 years. BMHS was the, the mental health authority for Baltimore City and during his tenure, it developed a range of innovative community-based programs for adults, increased affordable housing for people with mental illness, and expanded school-based and early childhood mental health services. Prior to joining BMHS, Mr. Baron was employed by Sinai Hospital of Baltimore where he worked with the leadership of the Department of Psychiatry and a group of Baltimore businessman, to help create People Encouraging People, Inc. (PEP), a comprehensive community based rehabilitation program for individuals with serious mental illness. Mr. Baron served as PEP’s first Executive Director.

Currently, Mr. Baron serves as the Executive Director of the Maryland Behavioral Health Network and as a senior advisor for Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Inc. A Baltimore native, he has served as an adjunct professor at the University Of Maryland School of Social Work. He holds a Master of Social Work from Howard University and a Bachelor of Social Welfare from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

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