At this incubator meeting, we had the pleasure of learning about mental health support services in the area from our very own Hwei-Ling Greeney. First, she spoke about ServiceNet, which is a mental health support center in Northampton. ServiceNet provides therapy and psychiatry services that are covered by MassHealth. Hwei-Ling explained that a person can request to see a male or female therapist, but recommended that since there are long wait times, a person should acceptthe therapist they’re given at first and then switch when the opportunity arises. A person can be referred to a psychiatrist after seeing a therapist twice. ServiceNet also runs the Grove Street Inn in Northampton, which is a year-round shelter for men and women who are homeless that has 20 beds, and the Interfaith Cot Shelter in Northampton, which is a 20-bed overflow facility for the Grove Street Inn.
Next, Hwei-Ling spoke about Clinical & Support Options (CSO). CSO is another mental health support center. At their Northampton location, they provide therapy, psychiatry, group therapy, and intensive outpatient programs. At their location in Amherst, they provide family programming, and additionally once a person completes their intake at the Northampton office, they can request to see their therapist at the Amherst office. CSO also runs respite services, which are short-term voluntary inpatient services that provide 24-hour support and stabilization, daily assessment and brief counseling, case management, nursing support, recovery and wellness groups, and psychiatric consultation.
Finally, Hwei-ling spoke about Afiya Respite, which is a peer-run respite in Northampton. She explained that Afiya provides a safe space for people in crisis, such as people going through severe emotional states or trauma, psychiatric diagnoses, homelessness, drug addiction, and more. People at Afiya stay in their own private bedrooms, and can come and go as they please. They have access to basic community food items, books, and art supplies, and an opportunity to rest and regroup. They also are allowed to have visitors, and continue their daily schedules such as work or school if they choose. Visitors are given the ability to learn about and access local resources that may benefit them, and are given support to brainstorm their next steps after leaving.
This meeting was very informative, and we all learned a lot about the different mental health services offered in our community! Often, people do not get their mental health issues treated, because they believe they are alone or that no one can help them, or they simply can’t access services. Getting educated on all of the mental health services available is essential in accessing these services.