West Springfield partners with CHD to provide health services to youth and families

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Center for Human Development (CHD) announced its partnership with the town of West Springfield to provide behavioral health and substance use intervention services in Central and Western Massachusetts schools.

The CHD has partnered with West Springfield Middle School (WSMS) to begin implementing their newest Youth Navigating New Heights program.

The program is part of a $3.4 million grant that aims to provide comprehensive clinical assessments, interventions, and community-based support services including at-risk youth, and their families.

“Young people today are experiencing unprecedented stress due to the uncertainties of this pandemic and exposure to substance misuse will certainly affect their mental health. This potentially traumatic experience may prevent them from learning and from developing positive skills,” said CHD Chief Program Officer Katherine Cook.

The program will hire a clinician and a full-time youth community support person on campus at WSMS, to work directly with faculty and administrators to provide comprehensive clinical assessments and interventions.

“Being able to identify students at risk through a screening or brief intervention might address the problem before it even begins in terms of the student’s own use,” said Cook.

Those receiving services will learn and develop skills related to distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness, as well as how to identify ways to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“The partnership with CHD allows more WSMS students to access needed supports, which includes group peers support, at a time where adolescents naturally struggle with risk-taking behavior,” said Jennifer Brennan, Director of Social Emotional Learning at WSMS.

The program is being funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).

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