Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. Establishment.


§ 7–1141.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Behavioral health” means a person’s overall social, emotional, and psychological well-being and development.

(2) “Behavioral health services” means stand-alone and co-occurring, integrated treatment services for substance abuse and mental health disorders that are designed to promote a person’s behavioral health.

(3) “Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program” or “CPEP” means a 24-hour/7-days a week program providing emergency psychiatric evaluation and stabilization.

(4) “Department” means the Department of Behavioral Health.

(5) “Director” means the Director of the Department of Behavioral Health.

(6) “Recovery” means a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

(7) “Recovery support services” means substance abuse treatment, care coordination, and community-based support that promote recovery.

(8) “Substance abuse” means a pattern of pathological use of a drug or alcohol that causes impairment in social or occupational functioning or produces physiological dependency evidenced by physical tolerance or physical symptoms when the drug or alcohol is not used.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5112, 60 DCR 12472.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5112 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) DHS MOU for substance abuse treatment, see § 5132 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5112 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

For temporary (90 days) DHS MOU for substance abuse treatment, see § 5132 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Section 5131 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle L of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Human Services Memorandum of Understanding Authority for Substance Abuse Treatment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Section 5132 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that for fiscal year 2014, the Department of Human Services (“DHS”) shall enter into a Memorandum of Understanding of up to $2.5 million with the Department of Behavioral Health (“DBH”) for a substance abuse treatment program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) clients. DHS shall work with DBH, other agencies, and community-based experts as necessary to establish an integrated system of care for TANF beneficiaries living with barriers, including mental health disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. DHS shall present the integrated system of care plan to the Committee on Human Services no later than December 1, 2013.

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.02. Establishment of the Department of Behavioral Health.

(a) There is established as a separate, cabinet-level Department, subordinate to the Mayor, the Department of Behavioral Health.

(b) The Department shall be the successor-in-interest to the Department of Mental Health, established by Chapter 11A of this title [§ 7-1131.01 et seq.], and the Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, established in the Department of Health by the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1996, effective July 17, 1996 [§ 1-1514.01].


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5113, 60 DCR 12472.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5113 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5113 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.03. Appointment of Director.

The Department shall be headed by a Director, who shall:

(1) Be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to § 1-523.01(a);

(2) Be qualified by experience and training to carry out the purposes of the Department as set forth in § 7-1141.05; and

(3) Serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5114, 60 DCR 12472.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5114 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5114 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.04. Duties of Director.

In addition to other duties as may be lawfully imposed, the Director shall:

(1) Supervise and direct the Department;

(2) Organize the Department for its efficient operation, including creating offices within the Department, as necessary; and

(3) Exercise any other powers necessary and appropriate to implement the provisions of this chapter.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5115, 60 DCR 12472.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5115 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5115 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.05. Purpose of the Department.

The Department shall:

(1) Ensure the provision of high-quality behavioral health services by establishing District-wide behavioral health standards and policies;

(2) Foster and promote behavioral health education and disease prevention;

(3) Provide high-quality prevention, treatment, and recovery support services related to mental health disorders, addictions, and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in the District;

(4) Develop and maintain an efficient and cost-effective behavioral health care financing system; and

(5) Implement, monitor, and evaluate the District’s strategic behavioral health plan.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5116, 60 DCR 12472.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1141.03.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5116 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5116 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.06. Powers and duties of the Department.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department shall:

(1) Plan, develop, coordinate, and monitor comprehensive and integrated behavioral health systems of care for adults and for children, youth, and their families in the District, so as to maximize utilization of behavioral health services and behavioral health supports;

(2) Assure that services for priority populations identified in the Department’s annual plan are funded within the Department’s appropriations or authorizations by Congress and are available;

(3) Serve as the state mental health authority and arrange for all authorized, publicly funded behavioral health services and behavioral health supports for the residents of the District, whether operated directly by, or through contract with, the Department; provided, that the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (“DYRS”) shall be responsible for the delivery of behavioral health services to youth in custody in DYRS secure facilities;

(4) Serve as the single state agency for substance abuse services and promulgate rules, regulations, and certification standards for high-quality prevention, treatment, and recovery support services related to addictions and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in the District of Columbia;

(5) Maximize and leverage local, federal, and other available funding to support behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery support services;

(6) Directly operate a hospital to provide inpatient mental health services, and maintain the hospital’s certification by the Department of Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;

(7) Make grants, pay subsidies, purchase services, and provide reimbursement for behavioral health services and behavioral health supports; provided, that any grants shall be administered pursuant to part B of subchapter XII-A of Chapter 3 of Title 1 [§ 1-328.11 et seq.];

(8) Arrange for, or directly provide, a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program for all persons identified to the Department who meet criteria for admission for such services;

(9) Arrange for a 24-hour, District-wide telephone communication service to provide intervention services for adults, children, and youth in need of behavioral health services and behavioral health supports, including observation, evaluation, emergency treatment, and, when necessary, referral for behavioral health services and behavioral health supports;

(10) Be the exclusive agency to regulate all behavioral health services and behavioral health supports, including outpatient behavioral health services and all substance abuse and detoxification services;

(11) Facilitate the delivery of acute inpatient behavioral health services and behavioral health supports through community or public hospitals in the District, including coordinating comprehensive behavioral health services and behavioral health supports for children, youth, and their families;

(12) Upon request or on its own initiative, investigate, or ask another agency to investigate, any complaint alleging abuse or neglect of any consumer of behavioral health services, and, if the investigation by the Department or an investigation by any other agency or entity substantiates the charge of abuse or neglect, take appropriate action to correct the situation, including notification of other appropriate authorities; and

(13) Exercise all other powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities previously assigned to the Department of Mental Health pursuant to Chapter 11A of this title [§ 7-1131.01 et seq.], and to the Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1996, effective July 17, 1996 (D.C. Official Code, Vol. 3) [Part A of subchapter XIV of Chapter 15 of Title 1].


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5117, 60 DCR 12472.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1141.07.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-141, see § 7149 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-112, Sept. 4, 2019, 66 DCR 11964).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-141, see § 7149 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-91, July 22, 2019, 66 DCR 8497).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5117 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5117 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 22-141: § 7149 of D.C. Law 23-16 repealed § 3 of D.C. Law 22-141.

For the requirement of a study of mental health and substance abuse in immigrant communities to be conducted by the Department of Behavioral Health, see § 2 of the Study of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Immigrant Communities Act of 2018, July 17, 2018, 65 DCR 5973. Section 3 of D.C. Law 22-141 provided that the law shall apply upon the date of inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.07. Transfer of authority, functions, property, and personnel.

(a) The following powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities are hereby transferred to the Department of Behavioral Health, effective October 1, 2013:

(1) All real and personal property, Career and Excepted Service, Management Supervisory Service, trainee positions, assets, records, obligations, unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds available or to be made available to the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, or relating to the powers, duties, functions, operations, and administration set forth in § 7-1141.06;

(2) All of the functions assigned and authorities granted and delegated to the Director of the Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Mental Health, as set forth in Chapter 11A of this title [§ 7-1131.01 et seq.]; and

(3) All of the functions assigned and authorities granted and delegated to the Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery as set forth in section IV(A)(3) of Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1996, effective July 17, 1996 (D.C. Official Code, Vol. 3) [Part A of subchapter XIV of Chapter 15 of Title 1].

(b) The following powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities are hereby transferred to the Department of Health, effective October 1, 2014:

(1) All property, Career and Excepted Service, Management Supervisory Service, and trainee positions, personnel, assets, records, obligations, unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds available or to be made available to the Tobacco Control Program.

(2) The Mayor shall coordinate, as necessary, the transfer from the Department to the Department of Health of any property, positions, personnel, assets, records, obligations, unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds required for the management and operation of the Tobacco Control Program.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5118, 60 DCR 12472; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-155, § 5032, 61 DCR 9990.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-155 added (b).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5118 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5118 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 5032 of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-377, July 14, 2014, 61 DCR 7598, 20 STAT 3696).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 5032 of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-449, October 10, 2014, 61 DCR 10915, 20 STAT 4188).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 5032 of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-566, January 9, 2015, 62 DCR 884, 21 STAT 541).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.08. Rules.

(a) All rulemaking and regulations for the administration of the District’s public mental health system and the addiction, recovery, and prevention system, issued under appropriate authority, shall continue in full force and effect until otherwise superseded.

(b)(1) Any amendment to the terms medical necessity or medically necessary, as those terms are defined in section 3499.1 of Title 22A of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (22A DCMR § 3499.1), shall be issued by the Department by rulemaking.

(2) The Department shall issue rules to establish criteria to determine whether mental health rehabilitation services, as that term is defined in section 3499.1 of Title 22A of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (22A DCMR § 3499.1), are medically necessary pursuant to section 3404.2 of Title 22A of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (22A DCMR § 3404.2).

(3) The rules issued pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, by resolution, within the 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5119, 60 DCR 12472; Mar. 22, 2019, D.C. Law 22-256, § 2, 66 DCR 1342.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Necessity Review Criteria Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-221, Dec. 28, 2017, 65 DCR 7).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5119 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5119 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Necessity Review Criteria Temporary Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Law 22-71, Mar. 28, 2018, 65 DCR 1366).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 7–1141.09. Construction and abolishment.

(a) To the extent any provision of Chapter 11A of this title [§ 7-1131.01 et seq.], is inconsistent with a provision of this chapter, the provision of this chapter shall govern and shall be deemed to supersede the inconsistent provision.

(b) The Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration as set forth in section IV(A)(3) of Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1996, effective July 17, 1996 (D.C. Official Code, Vol. 3) [Part A of subchapter XIV of Chapter 15 of Title 1], is abolished.


(Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 5120, 60 DCR 12472.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5120 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 5120 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 5111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle J of Title V of the act may be cited as the “Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.