BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor-elect Maura Healey will be sworn into office later Thursday morning, but before that she still had a job to do as Attorney General.
On Wednesday, she issued the first-ever mental health and gender-affirming care resource guide for lgbtq+ young people across the state to improve access to services.
The AG’s Resource Guide focuses on mental health providers in every county in the state who offer care that is affirming of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, including specialized services around domestic and sexual violence, housing assistance and shelter, and substance use disorder.
“As dangerous homophobic and transphobic policies are being enacted across the country, it is more important than ever that we support our LGBTQ2IA+ young people and ensure they have access to critical services and resources,” said AG Healey. “In publishing this Resource Guide, it is our hope that we are able to increase the visibility and accessibility of health care providers to our young people, and to better help them navigate through various financial and socio-cultural barriers to receive care.”
“There are so many caring professionals and organizations looking to support and affirm LGBTQ2IA+ people in the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Scott Hadland, Chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Mass General Hospital. “The LGBTQ2IA+ Mental Health Resource Guide is full of high-quality services, and it will not only save lives, but just as importantly, it will help LGBTQ2IA+ people find affirmation and thrive, all across our state.”
“On behalf of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH), I commend Attorney General Healey and her office for their leadership in developing a Mental Health Resource Guide for LGBTQ2IA+ Youth and Their Trusted Adults,” said President and CEO of Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH), Danna Mauch. “This resource is particularly timely, as we know that LGBTQ2IA+ youth are suffering disproportionately in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Guide will be a key resource in supporting the Commonwealth’s Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, in that it will help advance equitable access to culturally competent mental health and substance use services. This resource will remove barriers to care access for LGBTQ2IA+ Youth — a community that has been historically marginalized and is as a consequence at the greatest risk for disruption of their mental health and well-being. We look forward to disseminating the Guide through the Network of Care Massachusetts website, and trust it will be a helpful tool for the new Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line call, text, and chat operators.”
“In these challenging times, mental health resources, especially for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, are critically important in helping young people access the support that they need and deserve,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, Executive Director of BAGLY, Inc. “We applaud outgoing Attorney General and Governor-Elect Maura Healey and her team for developing this much-needed and useful resource for all LGBTQ+ youth, and those who provide services for their support.”
“LGBTQ+ youth are the targets of significant and unprecedented attacks resulting in an increased need for mental health services and supports,” said Christopher Bellonci, M.D. Senior Policy Advisor, Baker Center for Children and Families. “This is a timely resource that will benefit LGBTQ+ youth and their allies in the Commonwealth and I applaud the AGO’s office for investing the time and resources to develop it.”
“So many youths are struggling with mental health challenges these days, and we know that LGBTQIA+ youth face unique challenges in accessing mental health supports that are responsive to their needs,” said Maria Mossaides, Director of the Office of the Child Advocate. “This Resource Guide is an important step toward helping ensure LGBTQIA+ youth and the individuals who work with them are aware of the resources that do exist. The OCA was pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Office of the Attorney General in support of this project.”
“We are currently experiencing a national behavioral health crisis among youth, however, studies show that youth identifying as LGBTQ2IA+ face additional barriers to accessing quality behavioral health care,” said Amara Anosike, JD, Director of Behavioral Health Policy & Advocacy for Government Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital. “I applaud the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey for putting together a Resource Guide to support the unique mental health needs that youth identifying as LGBTQ2IA+ face.”
“This guide is an essential resource for LGBTQ2IA+ young people and supportive adults in the Commonwealth. All youth need and deserve access to trusted mental and medical healthcare resources, and such access is vital to ensuring LGBTQ2IA+ youth have the opportunity to thrive and grow into healthy, self-actualized adults,” said Amanda Johnston, Director of Public Affairs & Education for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “We commend the Office of the Attorney General for creating a clear and useful resource that will help thousands of LGBTQ2IA+ youth, their parents, family members, and other trusted adults navigate the landscape of providers in the state to find the care and support that best fits their needs.”
This Resource Guide will be distributed to school districts and healthcare providers and will also be available online.
Healey’s office is to fund the installation of 10 new air quality monitors in Northampton, Hadley, Amherst, Deerfield, Athol, Orange, Sunderland, and Palmer.
In Orange and Palmer, new monitors are to be placed at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation maintenance depots. For the rest of the towns, monitors are expected to be placed on municipal buildings, homes (by request), health care provider offices, and other areas of interest.
The Pioneer Valley Healthy Air Network, first established in 2021, is to be expanded by these new air quality monitors. Municipal, public health, and environmental leaders will be part of the collaborative partnership. These officials are to provide both public health information and support the communities in the region. An effort to make the Pioneer Valley a ‘healthier place to live’.
“For far too long, families in the Pioneer Valley have been unjustly burdened with environmental pollution and their health has suffered as a result,” AG Healey said. “Thanks to the help of our partners and the guidance of community members, we are putting the region on the path to cleaner air by expanding this important initiative into new cities and towns, providing more residents with the tools they need to protect themselves from the serious health risks posed by air pollution.”
“I am pleased to partner with communities across Western Massachusetts on this collaborative project supported by the Office of the Attorney General,” said Dr. Krystal Pollitt, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Science at Yale University School of Public Health. “The Healthy Air Network provides residents with high-quality measurements of local air quality. This information will be criteria for identifying actionable solutions that address local air pollution issues.”
“The Town is pleased to support the expansion of the air monitoring project into Amherst. As home to large environmental justice communities that house low-income residents and people of color, it is important that we understand the relationship between poor air quality and health disparities,” said Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. “We appreciate the initiative to better understand the impact on public health and, importantly, to share this information with members of the community.”
“We are very excited to have the monitor and look forward to the next few months when most of our temperature inversions occur,” said Carolyn Ness, member of the Deerfield Selectboard and chair of the Board of Health. “Having the ability to determine the amount pollutants in the air will allow us to inform and warn our residents most affected by health problems such as asthma.”
The air monitoring project is part of the Clean Air Initiative, which is focused on tackling air pollution, that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.
“I wanted to have an air sensor at my home because I could see the future importance of collecting this information,” said Samantha Hamilton, a Springfield resident who has a monitor at her home. “There is so much value in knowing when it is the best time to walk, play and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle in my neighborhood. With the changes in the climate, this information will become critical and possibly lifesaving over time.”
As of now, Pioneer Valley currently has 75 long-term monitors.
And be sure to watch Healey and lieutenant governor-elect Driscoll be sworn in at the Massachusetts State House. The ceremony starts at 11:30 this Thursday morning, 22News will be live-streaming this event.