SPRINGFIELD — The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a behavioral-health crisis in Western Mass. According to the 2020 statewide COVID-19 Community Impact Survey (CCIS), in Western Mass., one in three respondents (33%) reported 15 or more poor mental-health days in the past 30 days. The lack of access to culturally competent mental-health and substance-use-disorder treatment in rural and under-resourced urban areas is having a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities.
On Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum will present an examination of the depth and causes of the crisis and potential solutions. This virtual forum will also look at the recently passed Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care and the state’s Roadmap for Behavioral Health.
After a welcome from Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation will provide an overview of state action and moderate a panel of Western Mass. experts in the field.
Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, will provide insight into behavioral-health community needs in Western Mass; Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center, will give ground-level insight into patient needs from the community health perspective; and Steven Winn, president and CEO of Behavioral Health Network, will provide insight into state legislation and needs in the Commonwealth and Western Mass.
This event was made possible by funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Baystate Health.