New Name, New Era for Mental Health Services in East Boston

The ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for the new Community Behavioral Health Center (CBHC) of North Suffolk Community Services (formerly-known as the North Suffolk Mental Health Association), located at 14 Porter St., represents a new era for providing services to individuals of all ages in our community who are in need of mental health, addiction, and recovery support treatment, as well as for persons with developmental disabilities.

The mental health and drug treatment challenges facing our country today are staggering. More Americans than ever are dying of drug overdoses, fueled by the ever-increasing prevalence of the deadly substance fentanyl, the potent synthetic opioid that is being mixed with heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, or methamphetamine, among others, by drug dealers.

In addition, the stresses of everyday life, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have created what some refer to as the Age of Anxiety, fueling a huge increase in substance abuse of all kinds, including the worst of them all that still reigns supreme, alcohol.

The CBHC at 14 Porter St., which is set to open on January 3, substantially expands local access to routine, urgent, and crisis treatment for mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The facility will offer an accessible front door to mental health care and treatment for substance use disorders with same-day evaluations and referrals to treatment; adding more evening and weekend hours; enhancing timely follow-up appointments; and offering more peer support and evidence-based behavioral health treatment – including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – both in-person and via telehealth — as part of a statewide network of 25 newly designated CBHCs rolling out in early 2023.

North Suffolk also will deliver 24/7 community-based mobile crisis intervention and stabilization as an alternative to overwhelmed hospital emergency departments, for individuals of all ages in East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, and Charlestown.

It is fitting that the new facility will make its home at 14 Porter Street, a site that once was known as the East Boston Relief Station, an affiliate of what was then the Boston City Hospital, that provided health care and hospital services to neighborhood residents until 1970.

This is a new era confronting both mental health professionals and the people of our community, and we are pleased that the newly-named North Suffolk Community Services is stepping up to meet this challenge with the opening of the Community Behavioral Health Center.

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