A mental well being crisis hangs more than us

988 is the national 3-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (Photo from Massachusetts Division of Public Overall health)

May possibly is National Mental Overall health Awareness month which is a stark reminder that the nation and our state faces an alarming mental well being crisis affecting males, ladies and young children.

This week, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who represents a big portion of Billerica, filed a resolution in Congress that calls interest to this crisis which impacts the physical, emotional and wellbeing of households, buddies and communities. It is estimated that extra than 70 million adults and young children have a mental well being challenge, a single out of six adults endure from depression, 110,000 people today died final year of drug overdoses and the U.S. surgeon common just announced that loneliness is now a significant mental well being crisis. In Massachusetts, it is estimated that extra than 55% of residents are experiencing behavioral well being difficulties. Sadly, mental well being providers in Massachusetts are not capable to retain up with the significant development of these in want of assistance.

Behavioral therapists are experiencing burnout from treating an overwhelming quantity of current sufferers looking for urgent care which prevents new sufferers from getting prompt therapy, oftentimes resulting in weeks — if not months — for an appointment.

Nearby hospital emergency departments are seeing an raise in mental well being sufferers needing instant help due to acute psychiatric episodes. Also normally these sufferers, young and old, are forced to wait in the ER for extended periods of time just before they are transferred to an suitable care setting.

Mental well being authorities think social media and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of sadness, anger, and drug and alcohol abuse, which has led to a significant emotional crisis of violence, suicide, harming oneself or other folks. As a outcome, municipal and suburban police departments are seeing a dramatic raise in 911 calls requesting urgent help for an individual experiencing an acute mental well being issue. 1 suburban police division close to Boston reports that final year, 50-60% of 911 calls requested officer help for residents struggling with behavioral well being and substance abuse challenges.

Police officers are the initially to acknowledge that even although they obtain some mental well being crisis education in the police academy and as portion of their inservice education, they are not the finest equipped to efficiently deal with people today in mental distress.

It is gratifying to know that a increasing quantity of police departments in Massachusetts, which includes Lowell, are now collaborating and partnering with mental well being clinicians who will accompany officers responding to a get in touch with for behavioral help. In my personal town of Billerica, with a population of 45,000, Police Chief Roy Frost is really proud of getting a mental well being clinician offered to accompany officers when they obtain a get in touch with for assistance.

Frost, who enters his second year as police chief, understands that mental well being and substance abuse are really critical neighborhood, top quality of life and public security difficulties. By getting a very educated mental well being clinician partnering with his officers, the really finest level of urgent care is getting rendered to these in want.

The Billerica system is portion of a inventive and revolutionary collaborative of police departments in Tewksbury, Chelmsford, Tyngsboro and Dracut and is funded by grants from the state Division of Mental Overall health.

As the mental well being crisis continues to escalate in our area and state, it is incumbent on Gov. Maura Healey and the legislature to seriously contemplate enhanced funding to the Division of Mental Overall health so the agency can offer even higher monetary help to police agencies and neighborhood primarily based mental well being providers as a way of making extra applications and solutions that address this really significant issue.

Billerica’s Rick Pozniak served as a well being care communications and government affairs executive and communications counsel to the Mass. Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Overall health developed through the Dukakis administration.

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