Mental health professionals look to make policy changes

Mental health services are covered by insurance in Massachusetts

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Mental health professionals gathered Friday morning to discuss how the federal and state governments are helping those with mental illness.

Mental health advocates hope through awareness, and policy changes, they can get everyone the help they need to live long, productive lives. “That’s so important that people see that there are actually people who can live a life with these issues. If we get them the money and the help that they need, they can live a normal life,” said Bishop Neal Boyd, a board member for NAMI.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in our country, a statistic mental health advocates hope to change through policy changes.

People at the Northampton Senior Center Friday heard from some of those policy makers, like State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who explained that there will be more funding for expecting mothers and young children with mental health problems under the proposed spending bill for next fiscal year, beginning July 1.

Rosenberg also said the state is looking to invest in loan forgiveness programs for people in mental health professions helping young people in under-served areas.

At the federal level, the National Association on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts is concerned how changes to the Affordable Care Act could impact services. “We’re hoping for the best. We’re hoping that a lot of our money isn’t cut because if you ask me, Massachusetts is the best place to live if you have mental health challenges,” Bernice Drumheller, President of NAMI of Western Mass told 22News. She said several mental health services are covered by insurance in our Commonwealth.

This mental health policy breakfast was the first of Hampshire County and was co-sponsored by Cooley Dickinson Health Care and NAMI.

NAMI raises awareness with walks, like the one this Sunday in Westfield. 22News is a proud sponsor of the organization. 22News Storm Team Meteorologist Jennifer Pagliei will be the mistress of ceremonies.