A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Looking to a Day When Access to Mental Health Services Doesn’t Depend on Where You Go to School

Looking to a Day When Access to Mental Health Services Doesn’t Depend on Where You Go to School

October 23, 2009

Working in conjunction with the Boston Public Health Commission, the Children’s Mental Health Campaign sponsored its 16th community forum in Allston at the Gardner Pilot Academy.

It was an energetic and inspiring evening, with a mix of policy makers, elected officials, young people, parents, and advocates coming together to talk about ways to improve the children’s mental health system in Massachusetts.

Senator Steven Tolman kicked the evening off speaking about how important the issue is to him personally. Talking about the Coordination of Care legislation he sponsored, the Senator said, “Just compare the cost of passing this bill with the cost of doing nothing. We cannot afford to not get this done this session.”

Boston Public Health head Barbara Ferrer also addressed the group, highlighting her agency’s commitment to addressing the needs of children living with mental health concerns. Dr. Ferrer stayed for the remainder of the event and helped to facilitate a small group discussion about the specific needs facing the Allston community.

The most powerful speakers of the night were three young people who are part of the Spread The Word Campaign. Christine Casanova, India Clark, and Jason Villalona helped form a group through the Brookview House to help kids impacted by domestic violence and trauma. Speaking with them after their presentation, the three brought up an issue that the Campaign has heard again and again during these forums: a significant shortage of mental health providers working with children. Said Jason, “We found kids who need help, but they can’t find anyplace to go. Sometimes they try to make an appointment, but can’t get in for six months.”

In upcoming months, the Campaign will be sponsoring additional forums: in Somerville on November 5, and in Holyoke in December. For more information about these forums or if you are interested in having a forum in your community, contact Jessica Hamilton at jhamilton@hcfama.org.

Matt Noyes
Policy Manager