Last week House Speaker Ronald Mariano appointed Rep. Adrian Madaro as Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.
This is Rep. Madaro’s first chairmanship since being elected to the House in 2015. Madaro previously vice-chaired the Joint Committee on Transportation.
The Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery considers all matters concerning behavioral health, mental illness and substance use disorder, including prevention and early intervention, treatment and recovery services as well as homelessness.
The committee oversees the state’s Department of Mental Health and the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to work on issues that change people’s lives, that save lives, that really makes an impact on our communities in East Boston and the Commonwealth,” said Madaro. “If you think about it there’s no family that I know or can think of that hasn’t been touched on either mental health issues and or substance use issues so this is an incredible opportunity to really do some good.”
Madaro was instrumental in the past to secure state funding for the development and administration of a program to prevent and treat addiction to opioid and related substances through the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. The program closed services gap and ensured treatment councilors were able to cover the critical hours of night and weekend shifts with the hopes that this coverage could be the difference needed in preventing overdoses and encouraging treatment for addicts. He also secured state funding to focus efforts on mental health through the Health Center and how it pertains to substance abuse disorders.
“Most recently we worked on that issue for Telehealth to make sure those types of services are covered under Telehealth during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Madaro. “As a former board member of the Health Center and later as a state representative we’ve worked very hard trying to bolster those types of services for our community. That’s another reason why I’m really excited to have been named chair of the committee because it allows us to amplify and enhance the work that began right here in our own backyard statewide.”
With the recent opening of a recovery support center in Eastie, Madaro said there needs to be more focus on long-term support services.
“That is something I’ve heard a lot of folks in the recovery community talk about,” said Madaro. “The one thing about substance abuse and recovery is that it’s almost never ending. This is an issue that touches young people, whether it’s mental health or substance use, old people, veterans, there’s public safety implications, there’s public health implications and then it goes into the judiciary system when you think about drug court or mental health court. So the breadth of policy that we can work on is really incredible and it just presents such an amazing opportunity to make a positive impact in our community and, more broadly, throughout the state.”
Out of the gate Madaro said he plans to meet with key stakeholders in the mental health and recovery communities.
“We’re starting to line those meetings up now,” he said. “Not only with statewide players but also the players and stakeholders right in our own backyard. That would certainly include places like the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen volunteers, which are frontline service providers for people dealing with these challenges. It would also include North Suffolk Mental Health, the Health Center and anyone else who does that type of social service where people are dealing with those types of challenges. I really want to roll up my sleeves and help–whether it’s the issues that my Senate Co-Chair is facing down the Cape or whether it’s the issues we’re dealing with here in East Boston. I really wanted the opportunity to dive into substantive policy that impacts people’s lives and that’s exactly what I’m going to get to do on this committee. I’m just thrilled and grateful to Speaker Mariano for the appointment and excited to work with my colleagues on the committee to do some impactful work here in the state.”