North Suffolk Mental Health (NSMH), the agency that addresses substance abuse and mental health issues in the community located at the former East Boston Relief Station on Porter Street recently renovated its first floor to be more efficient and user friendly for its clients.
On Monday, Mayor Martin Walsh joined NSMH staff to cut the ribbon on the completed renovations. The building provides outpatient recovery services to individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder.
“I want to thank everyone here at this great place,” said Mayor Walsh, who is a recovering alcoholic. “I just did a tour inside, and thought to myself the amazing thing that is happening in East Boston. This (NSMH) is a place where people can walk in the front door one day feeling like their life is over, but then realizing by getting connected to therapy, to a doctor, by focusing on recovery and realizing that a week later or two weeks later or three weeks later there’s something worth living for. Then after getting a little “clean” time realizing life is unbelievable and in front of you. That is what recovery is all about. Recovery is one day at a time. This building is such an important step in the road to recovery. There is still a lot of people that don’t understand what addiction is all about and there is still a stigma attached to it in a lot of ways. People sometimes don’t want to talk about their addiction or the issues they have with mental health but you need to do that. What is happening here in East Boston in this very building is the healing of people. There are incredible miracles walking out of these doors every day.”
Renovations included moving the entrance to the front of the building, adding two handicap accessible ramps and creating a larger, more comfortable waiting area with an accessible bathroom as well as adding conference space and additional offices for clinicians.
NSMH CEO Dr. Jackie K. Moore, thanked those attending including Judge John McDonald and Tom Tassinari who work directly with North Suffolk at the East Boston Drug Court. McDonald has been a huge advocate for the East Boston Drug Court, pushing addicts towards treatment and diversion programs rather than jail.
“We have done a significant amount of renovations to the building including accessibility and safety renovations so we wanted to commemorate that and give people a chance to see what we have done,” said Moore.
Sen. Joseph Boncore, who has been working on the state budget to get more funding for programs like NSMH in order to tackle the community and state’s opioid epidemic, said as a former public defender at East Boston District Court he often dealt with the issue of substance abuse and mental health.
“Those experiences are what prompted me to run for state senate because I saw first hand that the courts were not the place to deal with addiction and it should be dealt with in places like North Suffolk,” said Boncore. “I want to thank everyone at North Suffolk because everyone is dealing with this issue but it’s programs like this that I can point to at the State House because it helps the legislature justify funding programs like North Suffolk and implement policies that embodies what NSMH does every day.”
City Councilor Lydia Edwards said she has seen first hand of how addiction affected some of her own family members.
“These are mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, integral members of our community that have a sickness,” said Edwards. “But through programs like North Suffolk we show that we are dedicated to be with them every step of the way on the road to recovery with no judgement or stigma.”