The Massachusetts House unanimously cleared a mental and behavioral health bill last Thursday, representatives now have around six weeks to adjust their plan alongside its Senate counterpart before the end of formal legislative sessions, July 31st, GBH reported.
Bill S.2584, an Act Addressing Barriers To Care For Mental Health, is a response to the growing mental and behavioral health crisis across Massachusetts. Rep. Adrian Madaro, the House chair of the Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee said the situation has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color, including the state’s diverse Latinx community, which makes up 12% of the state’s total population. However, equal access to adequate health care and treatment has been a long-time struggle for Hispanic and Latinx residents.
In 2018, Hispanics were found to be 50% less likely to receive mental health treatment compared to non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. A few factors that contribute to this statistic include the lack of health insurance, general inaccessibility to health resources, and cultural barriers, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“We’ve seen alarming rises in emergency department boarding for mental health concerns, and increasing demand for services without a sufficient workforce to address the need,” Madaro said. “The situation is compounded by continued disparities and how behavioral health and physical health treatment services are covered.”
Read more in Mass. House joins Senate in mental health push by GBH News at www.wgbh.org/.
Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.
Cover Photo: Paris Alston/WGBH News