June 9, 2023 2:26 am

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

Could is National Mental Wellness Awareness month which is a stark reminder that the nation and our state faces an alarming mental well being crisis affecting males, girls and kids.

This week, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who represents a significant aspect of Billerica, filed a resolution in Congress that calls focus to this crisis which impacts the physical, emotional and wellbeing of households, buddies and communities. It is estimated that additional than 70 million adults and kids have a mental well being challenge, a single out of six adults endure from depression, 110,000 persons died final year of drug overdoses and the U.S. surgeon basic just announced that loneliness is now a significant mental well being crisis. In Massachusetts, it is estimated that additional than 55% of residents are experiencing behavioral well being challenges. Sadly, mental well being providers in Massachusetts are not in a position to maintain up with the significant development of these in have to have of aid.

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

Neighborhood hospital emergency departments are seeing an boost in mental well being individuals needing quick help due to acute psychiatric episodes. Also frequently these individuals, 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 professionals 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 individuals. As a outcome, municipal and suburban police departments are seeing a dramatic boost in 911 calls requesting urgent help for an individual experiencing an acute mental well being dilemma. One particular 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 complications.

Police officers are the 1st to acknowledge that even although they acquire some mental well being crisis education in the police academy and as aspect of their inservice education, they are not the finest equipped to proficiently deal with persons in mental distress.

It is gratifying to know that a developing 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 extremely proud of obtaining a mental well being clinician readily available to accompany officers when they acquire a get in touch with for aid.

Frost, who enters his second year as police chief, understands that mental well being and substance abuse are extremely crucial neighborhood, high quality of life and public security challenges. By obtaining a extremely educated mental well being clinician partnering with his officers, the extremely finest level of urgent care is getting rendered to these in have to have.

The Billerica system is aspect 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 Wellness.

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 look at elevated funding to the Division of Mental Wellness so the agency can give even higher economic help to police agencies and neighborhood primarily based mental well being providers as a way of developing additional applications and solutions that address this extremely significant dilemma.

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 Wellness developed in the course of the Dukakis administration.

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