University News

Virtual Health Forum Focuses on Developing a Roadmap to Behavioral Health in Western Massachusetts

                                                   *** MEDIA ADVISORY ***


DATE:            Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022

TIME:            10-11:30 a.m.

WHAT:          Massachusetts Health Policy Forum: Roadmap to Behavioral Health in Western Massachusetts

WHERE:       Virtual: A detailed agenda and registration information is available via Zoom. Media are welcome.

CONTACT:  Patty Shillington,

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a behavioral health crisis, particularly in Western Massachusetts. The COVID-19 Community Impact Survey reported that in Western Massachusetts, one in three respondents reported 15 or more poor mental health days in the past 30 days. This forum will examine the lack of access to culturally competent mental health and substance use disorder treatment in rural and under-resourced urban areas in the western region of the state, the depth of this crisis and potential innovative solutions.

The forum will begin with a welcoming address by Marylou Sudders, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health. Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, will provide an overview of state action and moderate a panel of regional experts in the field. They include Jessica Collins, executive director, Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, who will discuss the behavioral health needs in communities and share information about how coalitions in the region are working to address this crisis; Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center in Springfield, who will give ground-level insight into patient needs and workforce issues from the community health perspective; and Steven Winn, president and CEO of Behavioral Health Network, who will discuss the challenges and barriers to access the necessary behavioral health care services from the provider perspective. He will share promising innovation and potential pathways to better meeting critical needs.