Massachusetts Health Policy Forum

Roadmap to Behavioral Health in Western Massachusetts

The Virtual Forum, Roadmap to Behavioral Health in Western Massachusetts, was held from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 1, 2022.

The COVID Pandemic exacerbated a behavioral health crisis particularly in Western Massachusetts. The 2020 statewide COVID-19 Community Impact Survey (CCIS) reported that in western MA, one in three respondents (33%) reported 15 or more poor mental health days in the past 30 days. The lack of access to culturally competent mental health and substance use disorder treatment in rural and under-resourced urban areas is having a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities.

This forum examined the depth and causes of the crisis and potential solutions. It also looked at recently passed Mental Health ABC: Addressing Barriers to Care and the state's Roadmap for Behavioral Health. 

After a welcome from Secretary Marylou Sudders and Dr. Mark Keroack, President & CEO of Baystate Health, Audrey Shelto, President & CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation provided an overview of state action and moderated a panel of Western Massachusetts experts in the field. Jessica Collins, Executive Director, Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts provided insight into behavioral health community needs in Western Massachusetts. Tania Barber, President & CEO of Caring Health Center gave ground level insight into patient needs from the community health perspective and Steven Winn, the President & CEO of Behavioral Health Network provided insight into state legislation and needs in the commonwealth and Western Massachusetts.

This event was made possible by generous funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Baystate Health.


Speaker Biographies

Overview of State Behavioral Health Initiatives
Audrey Shelto, President & CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation