CHICOPEE — Less than 14 hours after the new all-service mental health clinic opened on Tuesday, social workers are already planning treatment for at least 10 people, and crisis teams are responding to two locations, Staff were responding to frequent calls from more people. help.
Counselors, nurses and social workers at Gateway, the Center for Human Development’s new community behavioral health center, happily set aside the moving task of setting up chairs and hanging pictures to help with the much-needed made available to provide care. Struggling with mental health and substance issues, she didn’t know where to go, said Christy O’Brien, a licensed social worker and program director at the new clinic.
In their final weeks in office, one of Governor Charlie Baker’s and Lt. Karin Polito’s farewell gifts to the state was to launch an initiative to better handle the growing mental health crisis. The administration has partnered with multiple health care providers, including the Center for Human Development and the Springfield Behavioral Health Network, to open 25 community behavioral health centers and behavioral health hotlines.
In Chicopee, the center is open 24 hours a day from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends, and crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day through the center’s hotline number 833-243. increase. -8255.
Clinics are designed to serve their respective regions. The gateway, for example, covers Chicopee, Holyoke, Ludlow, South Hadley, Belchertown, Granby, Monson, Palmer, Southampton, Wear. O’Brien, like individuals in all regions who already have CHD services.
Behavioral Health Network operates BHN WellBeing clinics at 417 Liberty St. in Springfield and 77 Mill St. in Westfield. They serve 17 communities in the area, including Agawam, West Springfield, Longmeadow, East He, Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Hampden, Southwick and most of Hilltown, officials said.
The two BHN Wellbeing Clinics have the same hours of operation as the Gateway Center. The 24-hour phone number is 413-301-9355.
“By concentrating resources in specific areas under one roof,[behavioral health clinics]offer a single place of comprehensive care, reduce duplication of services, and provide frequent access to mental health needs. Strengthen coordination between key touchpoints (hospitals, clinics), schools, first responders, recovery networks – improve access to basic care for people and families so that health care and It reduces the impact of urgent mental health needs on emergency response systems,” said O’Brien.
No one knows why mental health illnesses are on the rise. Some were caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, some by reduced stigma and increased understanding of mental health, and some by the prevalence of social media, especially among children and teens.
Funded by a variety of sources, including third-party insurance and state grants, clinics are designed to get people to treatment early, before they fall into crisis, and are on standby in emergencies. reduce the problems of people with mental health problems O’Brien said it offers rooms for hours, sometimes days, and provides an easy way for people to get help.
Gateway has about 50 staff and currently employs nurses, therapists, and social workers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
As people enter the gateway, they are greeted by trained and caring staff and assigned to clinicians such as social workers, nurses, and peer counselors.
“When you’re not feeling well, you want somewhere warm and comfortable,” she said.
People don’t need to know what’s wrong with them, and that’s what clinicians do, she said, since they’re having trouble making phone calls or stepping in the door.
“They talk to the team to come up with the best solution for the person and set a follow-up appointment,” she said.
Callers can schedule an appointment within 24 hours and see a healthcare provider within three days if the issue is related to prescription drugs, she said.
The key is that no one joins Gateway and leaves without a plan to improve, says O’Brien.
While some people at severe risk may still be hospitalized, gateways include adults who may not be sick enough to need hospital treatment but are not ready to go home. And there is also a nighttime “crisis stabilized” bed for children. Said.
Other services in BHN Wellbeing include help in navigating insurance and finding support services such as meals and housing. Both clinics are also staffed by trained piercing specialists who have similar experiences to their patients and understand their problems personally. Pierce specialists are often used to treat substance abuse, officials said.
Behavioral Health Network President and CEO Steve Winn said:
The clinic also has teams to respond to crises wherever they are. O’Brien said they work with police departments across the area because cops are often the first to be called when someone is in a mental health crisis.
While the practice of mental health counselors responding to police has been in place for some time, particularly in the cities of Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee, clinics now have resources in every department, no matter how small the town. She said it offers
Gateway has also contacted all local school systems. In fact, one of her first calls for the team from the clinic was at a school in the area, O’Brien said.
Their mental health team meets regularly with school staff, and primarily school social workers, counselors and nurses are already there to assist staff when needed, she said.
The clinic was created as part of a multi-year plan to better address the mental health crisis. According to the governor’s office, about 700 patients, families and caregivers participated in listening sessions and after providing other feedback calling for expanded access to treatment, more effective treatment and improved health equity. was created.