HCN News & Notes

State Launches Community Behavioral Health Centers, Behavioral Health Help Line

BOSTON — In one of its final actions this week, the Baker-Polito administration announced the implementation of its Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform with the opening of 25 Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs), community-based crisis-intervention services, and the launch of the 24/7 Behavioral Health Help Line. Built with input from healthcare providers, medical professionals, legislators, and individuals and families across Massachusetts, the Roadmap demonstrates the commitment the Commonwealth has made to making behavioral health just as much a priority as physical health.

The launch of the Help Line, mobile crisis services, and CBHCs introduces a new ‘front door’ to behavioral healthcare for Massachusetts residents, making it easier for residents to find and access behavioral-health services, reducing reliance on hospital emergency rooms, and improving and streamlining the availability of behavioral-health clinical services for adults and youth.

“Over the past eight years, our administration has worked in partnership with providers, clinicians, and communities to strengthen capacity and access in the behavioral-health system,” former Gov. Charlie Baker said. “With the implementation of these important initiatives from the Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, we are taking another important step to ensuring our residents can get the help they need, which is especially crucial given the continued need for behavioral-health services as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Three major outcomes of the Roadmap are:

• A network of 25 Community Behavioral Health Centers in communities across the state, designated and funded by the administration, that serve as an entry point for timely, high-quality, and evidence-based treatment for mental-health conditions and substance-use disorders (SUDs), including routine appointments, urgent visits, and community-based crisis intervention;

• 24/7 mobile, community-based crisis intervention and stabilization services that will serve as an alternative to hospital emergency departments; and

• A new, 24/7 Behavioral Health Help Line, which offers a single point of contact for residents to receive real-time support, initial clinical assessment, and connection to the right mental-health and SUD evaluation and treatment, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The phone and chat line will offer real-time clinical triage and service navigation in more than 200 languages to help individuals and families access the range of treatment for mental-health and addiction offered in the Commonwealth, including outpatient, urgent, and immediate crisis intervention. Every call, text, or chat conversation will include clinical follow-up. The Help Line is available through phone or text at (833) 773-2445, as well as chat online at masshelpline.com.

“Today, the Commonwealth implements a groundbreaking initiative dedicated to creating accessible, high-quality behavioral healthcare for residents, with an integrated care model designed with the unique needs of the patient in mind,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “This administration has made behavioral health a priority, always with the goal of true parity. With the implementation of the Roadmap, all Massachusetts residents have access to the behavioral healthcare services they need, through a ‘front door’ to care that will relieve the burden on our hospital emergency departments and simplify the process of receiving treatment for patients and their loved ones.”