Local emergency behavioral healthcare services have been expanded in the Worcester County communities of Ashburnham, Gardiner, Hubbardston, Templeton, Westminster and Winchendon.
Clinical & Support Options, a nonprofit community behavioral health agency that has been awarded the state’s designation as a community behavioral health center in the communities it serves, expanded the services it offers beginning Jan. 3.
CSO will serve adults, youth and families [even those without insurance or ability to pay] Provides crisis, urgent, and ongoing outpatient and inpatient behavioral health services for mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Services include same-day assessment and treatment, evening and weekend hours, behavioral health urgent care, evidence-based clinical treatment, peer support and groups, medication management, 24/7 community-based crisis intervention, mobile crisis teams, and crisis stabilization beds. Improvements will also be made to psychiatric Integration of Pharmacology, Nursing and Primary Care.
Services will be provided via telehealth, in-person at Gardner locations, and in the wider community.
“We made it clear to state officials [these communities] CSO President and CEO Karin Jeffers explained, “We are eager to grow our clinic in Gardiner and serve more people in the North County area. Having a local CBHC…will help remove barriers to access and Make sure there is a quick response to those in need.”
They already have the infrastructure to scale up. Over the years, the CSO has successfully operated an “open access” clinical model with “broad holistic, wraparound support,” Jeffers said. The agency provides “flexible, person-centred mental health and addictions treatment services.”
The biggest change is becoming a community-based mobile crisis intervention provider.
“Previously, this service was called the Emergency Services Program. When a person was in a mental health crisis, the local police, public schools, local families, and others would call the ESP. Now, the CSO is that provider…we’ll get the Our MCI services are delivered in-house at our Gardner CBHC,” said Geoffrey Oldmixon, Vice President of Marketing and Development at CSO.
Founded in 1954 and a year later as the Franklin County Mental Health Association, the organization was started by 22 local residents concerned with providing mental health services to families in the area. It became a CSO in 1995 and has since grown in central and western Massachusetts. It serves more than 19,000 clients at 19 locations and employs more than 700 multidisciplinary employees. The Gardner office has been open since 2016.
As a CBHC, CSOs are required to provide comprehensive mental health and addictions treatment for people of all ages, serving diverse populations with multiple cultures, languages, and disabilities.
Jennifer LaRoche, CSO vice president of acute and ambulatory programs, said the new CBHC designation “will strengthen the community connections that are already established.”
The agency works closely with local police departments, hospitals, schools and other community partners “to ensure that our role as the designated community provider remains credible and delivers high-quality, evidence-based, trauma-informed care,” she said. The district’s official behavioral health provider “will only help further integrate these relationships.”
Although anyone with any type of private or public insurance can take advantage of its services, the CSO is the entry point for MassHealth’s mental health care services. Patients can be referred to other MassHealth services, such as intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, or long-term inpatient facilities.
those with other [or no] Insurers may also refer to additional behavioral health services and resources appropriate to their situation.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in five people is challenged by a mental illness, but only about 46 percent receive treatment, according to Oldmixon.
The Baker-Polito government’s Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, has created 25 different CBHCs across the Commonwealth, all of which came into force in the new year. Only regional suppliers who meet strict eligibility thresholds are selected from the pool of applicants.
The Roadmap provides “better funding,” a “better investment” from the state than previous state-sponsored behavioral health programs and establishes parity between physical and behavioral health care, Jeffers said. .
That includes adjustments to payments for behavioral health providers, who are “facing a critical shortage of licensed providers,” she added. “It’s critical that the field be able to attract and retain new talent by promising salaries that are competitive with other occupations,” especially in community health settings, Jeffers said.
In addition to the CBHC payment model, the CSO provides services and bridges to other providers funded by various state and federal grants, Oldmixon said.
“Everyone deserves quality care,” Oldmixon said.
For more information on the CSO and the agency’s services, visit csoinc.org.