May is Mental Health Awareness Month and May 7th-13th is Children’s Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is: Accept, Advocate & Act: Because Awareness is Not Enough. Over 1 in 5 people will have a mental health condition in their lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already growing mental health crisis, especially for youth. With 50% of mental health conditions beginning before age 14 and 75% by age 24, it is imperative that to ensure that the full range of support is available, from promotion, prevention and early intervention through acute and crisis care.
Over the past several years, Massachusetts has made some great strides in mental health systems reform – Chapter 177 of the Acts of 2022, the Behavioral Health Roadmap; MassHealth changes to support the integration of behavioral health into primary care, resources for school-based behavioral health; and workforce recruitment and retention programs. These are all promising steps forward, and there is more work to be done. See below for some upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month events and resources available to Massachusetts residents who need help connecting to mental health care.
Mental Health Awareness Month Information & Resources:
- Parent/Professional Advocacy League Children’s Mental Health Week Toolkit
- May 12th, 12-1pm (virtual): Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Lunch and Learn Webinar (Children’s Mental Health Campaign event)
- May 12th, 12pm (in person): Youth Mental Health Crisis: An event with Sen. Markey & CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Suffolk University Law School’s Keches Function Room, Rm. 170, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
- May 19th, 9am-3pm (virtual): Parent/Professional Advocacy League Annual Conference
- May 20th, 9am-1pm (in person): NAMIWalks Massachusetts, Artesani Park, 1255 Soldiers Field Road, Boston
Mental Health Access Resources:
- Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line: Open to all Massachusetts residents regardless of insurance type (or uninsured), helps people connect to mental health and substance use services. Available 24/7/365. Call/text/chat available.
- Network of Care Massachusetts: Online tool with a service directory (searchable by keyword and zip code) of 5,000 mental health, substance use, and social services resources.
- NAMI Massachusetts and the Compass Helpline: Provides free information, ideas, resources, and support to help people navigate the complex mental health system and related systems of care.
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Direct 3-digit phone line to trained National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call takers who can offer emotional support (NOT clinical support) to anyone in emotional distress. Open 24/7/365. Call or chat.
Suzanne Curry is a Director of Policy & Government Relations at Health Care For All.