Legislative Commission Learns from BID-Plymouth
Special Commission on Behavioral Health and Addiction Prevention
The devil is in the details and the devil of opioid addiction looms large throughout Massachusetts. In 2016, there were approximately 12,000 opioid-related incidences in Massachusetts and 151 opioid deaths in Plymouth County. Many of these incidences are compounded with behavioral health and mental health issues for individuals from all walks of life.
To better understand the size and scope individuals struggling with behavioral health issues and addiction, a Special State Legislative Commission known as The PromotePrevent Commission was formed in 2017 and is chaired by State Representative Jim Cantwell (D-Marshfield). The PromotePrevent Commission is tasked with compiling recommendations for how to prevent behavioral health issues, like addiction and mental illness, and identifying ways to increase investments in prevention.
On November 2, the PromotePrevent Commission held their first Public Hearing outside of the State House at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth. One of the reasons why the Commission chose BID-Plymouth is due to the hospital’s unique behavioral health and opioid program that launched in 2015 and serves as a model for other communities to adopt.
“We are so grateful that BID-Plymouth was willing to host, especially given the hospital’s leadership in implementing a comprehensive behavioral health and substance use collaborative,” said Rep. Cantwell. “Our Commission has coalesced around the belief that if we act early, we can save individuals and families from tragedy and promote a healthier commonwealth. Much of this prevention work is led locally, so we want to learn from the experts: local officials, professionals, and citizen-led groups.”
More than 50 people attended the Public Hearing to provide expert testimony and to hear from others on the front line of treating patients struggling with behavioral health and addiction. Members of BID-Plymouth’s Integrated Healthcare and Substance Use Collaborative, led by Dr. Danny Mendoza, chief of Psychiatry, presented testimony about the hospital’s program as well as future challenges for both healthcare providers and patients.
One of the Collaborative’s patients, Seamus, provided an emotional testimony about his struggle from the brink of despair and addiction to now living a life of hope with his wife and children. Seamus’ story highlights the simple truth that behavioral health and addiction can impact anyone at anytime and why innovative treatment programs are vital to the fabric of society.
When government, hospitals, and community organizations come together to address major health issues, much can be accomplished. BID-Plymouth is ahead of the curve in bringing the community together to tackle the community-wide behavioral health and opioid epidemic.
The PromotePrevent Commission represents the start of a unified, state-wide approach to turning the tide of despair and addiction into hope and a healthy life for the thousands of Massachusetts residents in need of help.