- Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Media Contact for Commissioner Mikula Highlights Western Massachusetts Consumer and Provider Achievements at Legislative Breakfast
Glenda Hazard, Director of Communications
Springfield — Today, Department of Mental Health Commissioner Joan Mikula joined Senator James Welch, Representative Carlos Gonzalez, and area mental health advocates at the annual Western Massachusetts Legislative breakfast to celebrate the successes of those served by DMH and the legislative support that helps make those successes possible.
“Metal illness affects everyone, without regard for age, race, gender, ethnicity, education, financial status,” said Commissioner Mikula. “There is no particular profile that defines those who struggle with mental health issues, making legislative support and the dedication of advocates so important.”
This is the third in a series of five legislative breakfasts. The Northeast and Southeast regional breakfasts were held in February (Watch the recovery stories from each on YouTube) and the Metro Boston and Central Massachusetts Legislative breakfasts are planned for May.
Today’s event was emceed by Western Massachusetts Area Regional Director Julie Schwager and highlighted milestones in treatment for individuals in Western Massachusetts as well as a series of speakers which included Commissioner Mikula, Senator Welch, Representative Gonzalez and three individuals who received DMH services: Daniel Schlicher, Rafael Rodriguez and Rachel Desmond.
At Friday’s breakfast, the Judge Frank Freedman award was presented to Heather Ingram, senior family support counselor at Cutchins Programs for Children and Families Residential Programs. The Freeman Award honors a direct care support worker who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to facilitating recovery for people who use DMH-funded services
Commissioner Mikula’s remarks highlighted several regional programs including the Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Flexible Support Team, which recently launched expanded services to assist youth from 17 to 22 years old with the transition into independent adulthood. The TAY team focuses on the young adults’ clinical and social needs, and now also assists with employment, volunteer opportunities, community interaction, and housing. The team consists of clinical staff, peer mentors, and parental and therapeutic support.
The region’s highly successful Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) – a multidisciplinary team approach providing acute and long term support, community based psychiatric treatment, assertive outreach, and rehabilitation services – was also highlighted as the only region in the state with a forensic component. Virtually all of those served by this PACT are involved with the criminal justice system and are assessed on that basis in addition to mental health and substance misuse factors. This combined focus has helped 80 percent of those served in the last two quarters to remain successful and in the community.
The Department of Mental Health, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages; enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) has a specialized role in the healthcare delivery system as DMH provides supplemental services for people with the most serious needs. To learn more visit www.Mass.gov/DMH.