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Massachusetts Mental Health Services Guide

Many people don't realize that publicly-funded mental health services are available in their state. People looking for free or low-cost counseling often think their only options are counselors in private practice and don't know that publicly-funded providers in their communities may also offer counseling services. 

 

While state-based programs are not for everyone, they are often a great place to start for people who face geographic or financial barriers to therapy. Intake specialists at community mental health programs can help people learn whether they qualify for state-funded services and can refer people who don't qualify to other low-cost programs that may be able to meet their needs.

 


 

When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?

Few mental health providers outside of those in the public sector are able to immediately serve people in crisis. This usually makes public mental health services the best option for anyone who is having a mental health crisis and needs help right away. The people who answer crisis lines offer caring attention and support as they help people determine the best response to a crisis, whether it's inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.


In most cases, community mental health programs serve as alternative providers for people who lack the means to access services in the private sector. In Massachusetts, public mental health services are restrictive and admit only those people who have severe mental health conditions. Because of its unique status as the first state to establish a statewide health insurance exchange, Massachusetts expects most state residents to obtain insurance through the exchange and to access services through their insurance plans. 


However, if you have a severe mental health condition, or think you may have one, you should call your local DMH site office for more information. You may be eligible for services beyond what insurance would cover. You should also always utilize the state's crisis response system if you are in crisis. If you are not eligible for DMH services, you can also search for free or low-cost counselors on  OpenCounseling.com or try affordable online counseling at BetterHelp (a sponsor).


According to Mental Health America, Massachusetts ranks 1 out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) for access to mental health care. According to SAMHSA, 54 percent of people in Massachusetts with mental health conditions get treatment for them, a larger percentage than in many other states. However, reporting by The Boston Globe paints a different picture and shows that many people still struggle to access mental health care in Massachusetts. 


If you are one of the people struggling to get the care you need, don't give up. You can reach out to your DMH area or site office or call a local crisis or information line to learn more about how to access the care you need.

 

Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in Massachusetts?

On its eligibility page, the Department of Mental Health advises mental health consumers that "most mental health services, including medication and therapy, are provided through health insurance — MassHealth (Medicaid), the Massachusetts Health Connector (health insurance exchange), or through private insurance (employer-based). The Department of Mental Health provides supplemental services for people with the most serious needs. These services are beyond those supplied through health insurance and require approval by DMH."


Like most states, Massachusetts defines people with serious mental illness as people whose conditions cause them severe distress, limit their ability to function, make it hard for them to live independently without support, and put them at risk of hospitalization. This includes people with thought disorders whose symptoms cause them to become delusional and people with mood disorders whose symptoms put them at risk of harming themselves or others or dangerously neglecting self-care. People who are having difficulty maintaining jobs due to mental health concerns may also qualify.


Massachusetts residents who do not have a severe mental illness and who do not qualify for Medicaid should strongly consider signing up for insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector during an open enrollment period and looking for mental health providers in their plan's network. You can also use the search feature at OpenCounseling.com to search for private providers and community programs that accept self-pay and offer sliding scale fees.

 

How Can You Find Out More About Local Programs in Massachusetts?

In addition to five regional offices, DMH operates 27 local site offices. The functions of these site offices are to determine service eligibility, authorize services for eligible individuals, provide case management services to qualifying individuals, and oversee a system of mental health programs that includes both public and contracted private providers. Each office has a main number you can call to learn more about local mental health services as well as an associated crisis line:

 

Massachusetts' Mental Health Clinics and Access Numbers

Department of Mental Health Central Office

25 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114

Main number: (617) 626-8000

Information and resource line voicemail box (calls are returned in 48 hours): (800) 221-0053

Central emergency/crisis services line (enter your zip code to be routed to your local crisis line): (877) 382-1609


DMH Metro Boston Area Main Office

85 East Newton Street, Boston, MA 02118

Main number: (617) 626-9200

Crisis line/emergency services: (800) 981-HELP


Fuller/Bay Cove Site Office

85 E. Newton Street, Third Floor, Boston, MA 02118

Main number: (617) 626-8944

Towns served: Chinatown, Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, South End, Mattapan


Lindemann/Cambridge/Somerville Site Office

25 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114

Main number: (617) 626-8510

Towns served: Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelsea, Downtown Boston including Beacon Hill, East Boston, Revere, Somerville, North End, Winthrop


Massachusetts Mental Health Center

75 Fenwood Road and 20 Vining Street, Boston, MA 02111

Main number: (617) 626-9300

Towns Served: Allston, Back Bay, Brighton, Brookline, Fenway, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury, West Roxbury


Northeast Massachusetts


DMH Northeast Area Main Office

365 East Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876

Main number: (978) 863-5000


Essex North (Lawrence) Site Office

280 Merrimack Street, Third Floor, Lawrence, MA 01843

Main number: (978) 738-4500

Towns served: Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury, West Newbury


Essex North emergency/crisis 24-hour response teams:


North Essex Mental Health

60 Merrimack Street, Haverhill, MA 01830

Crisis line: (978) 521-3126 or (800) 281-3223


Health and Education Services

30 General Street, Lawrence, MA 01841

Crisis line: (978) 683-3128 or (877) 255-1261


North Shore (Salem) Site Office

45 Congress Street, Suite 4120, Salem, MA 01970

Main number: (978) 741-7300

Towns served: Beverly, Danvers, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Marblehead, Middleton, Peabody, Rockport, Salem, Topsfield, Wenham


North Shore emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

North Shore Emergency Services

41 Mason Street, Salem, MA 01970

Crisis line: (978) 744-1585 or (866) 523-1216


Lowell Site Office

Solomon Mental Health Center

391 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854

Main number: (978) 322-5000

Towns served: Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford


Lowell emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

HES, 391 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854

(978) 455-3397 or (800) 830-5177


Lynn Site Office

330 Lynnway, Suite 201, Lynn, MA 01901

Main number: (781) 477-2070

Towns served: Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Saugus, Swampscott


Lynn emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Eliot Community Services

95 Pleasant Street, Lynn, MA 01901

Crisis line: (781) 596-9222 or (800) 988-1111


Metro North (Wakefield) Site Office

200 Harvard Mill Square, Suite 410, Wakefield, MA 01880

Main number: (781) 224-7900

Towns served: Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield


Metro North emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Eliot Community Human Services

173 Chelsea Street, Everett, MA 02149

Crisis line: (781) 581-9876


Acton Site Office

35 Nagog Park, Second Floor, Acton, MA 01720

Main number: (978) 206-2100

Towns served: Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Waltham, Watertown, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn


Acton emergency/crisis 24-hour response:

Advocates' Psychiatric Emergency Services East

675 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02453

Crisis line: (781) 893-2003 or (800) 640-5432


Southeast Massachusetts


DMH Southeast Area Main Office

165 Quincy Street, Brockton, MA 02302

Main number: (508) 897-2000


Brockton Site Office

165 Quincy Street, Brockton, MA 02303

Main number: (508) 897-2000

Towns served: Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Holbrook, Rockland, Stoughton, West Bridgewater, Whitman


Brockton emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Brockton Multi-Service Center

165 Quincy Street, Brockton, MA 02302

Crisis line: (877) 670-9957


Cape Cod and the Islands Site Office

181 North Street, Hyannis, MA 02601

Main number: (508) 957-0900

Towns served: Aquinnah, Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Chilmark, Cotuit, Dennis, Eastham, Edgartown, Falmouth, Gay Head, Harwich, Hyannis, Mashpee, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, Orleans, Osterville, Provincetown, Sandwich, Tisbury, Truro, Vineyard Haven, Wellfleet, West Tisbury, Woods Hole, Yarmouth


Cape Cod and the Islands emergency/crisis 24-hour response teams:


Baycove/Cape Cod and the Islands Emergency Services:

270 Communication Way, Hyannis, MA 02601

Crisis line: (833) 229-2683


Martha's Vineyard Community Services

111 Edgartown Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Crisis line: (508) 693-0032


35 Old South Road, Nantucket, MA 02554

Crisis line: (877) 784-6273


Corrigan (Fall River) Site Office

49 Hillside Street, Fall River, MA 02720

Main number: (800) 981-4357

Towns served: Fall River, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea, Westport


Fall River emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Corrigan Mental Health Center

49 Hillside Street, Fall River, MA 02720

Crisis line: (508) 235-7200 or (877) 425-0048


New Bedford Site Office

888 Purchase Street, Suite 213, New Bedford, MA 02740

Main number: (508) 996-7900

Towns served: Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Gosnold, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Onset, Rochester, Wareham


New Bedford emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Child and Family Services of New Bedford

543 North Street, New Bedford, MA 02740

Crisis line: (508) 996-3154 or (877) 996-3154


Plymouth Site Office

38 Industrial Park Road, Plymouth, MA 02360

Main number: (508) 732-3000

Towns served: Carver, Duxbury, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Marshfield, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton


Plymouth emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Child and Family Services

118 Long Pond Road, Suite 102, Plymouth, MA 02360

Crisis line: (800) 469-9888


Taunton Site Office

60 Hodges Ave, Taunton, MA 02780

Main number: (508) 977-3150

Towns served: Attleboro, Berkley, Dighton, Lakeville, Mansfield, Middleboro, North Attleboro, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Taunton


Taunton emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Community Counseling of Bristol County

108 West Main Street, Norton, MA 02766

Crisis line: (800) 660-4300


Quincy Site Office

Quincy Mental Health Center

460 Quincy Avenue, Quincy, MA 02169

Main number: (617) 984-1000

Towns served: Braintree, Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, Milton, Norwell, Quincy, Randolph, Scituate, Weymouth


Quincy emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

South Shore Mental Health Crisis Team

460 Quincy Avenue, Quincy, MA 02169

Crisis line: (617) 774-6036 or (800) 528-4890


Central Massachusetts


DMH Central Massachusetts Area Main Office

361 Plantation Street, First Floor, Worcester, MA 01605

Main number: (774) 420-3140


North County Site Office

EHS Center, 49 Nursery Lane, Fitchburg, MA 01420

Main number: (978) 353-4400

Towns served: Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Gilbertville, Groton, Hardwick, Harvard, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, New Braintree, Oakham, Pepperell, Princeton, Rutland, Shirley, Sterling, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster, Winchendon


North County emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Community Health Link/Lipton Center

40 Spruce Street, Leominster, MA 01453

Crisis line: (800) 977-5555


South County Site Office

40 Institute Road, Oaks "B" Building, No. Grafton, MA 01536

Main number: (508) 887-1100

Towns served: Bellingham, Blackstone, Brimfield, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Franklin, Grafton, Holland, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, North Brookfield, Oxford, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Wales, Warren, Webster, West Brookfield, Whitinsville


South County emergency/crisis 24-hour response teams:


Blackstone Valley Emergency Services

Riverside Community Care, 32 Hamilton Street, Milford, MA 01757

Crisis line: (508) 634-3420 or (800) 294-4665


Harrington Memorial Hospital

100 South Street, Southbridge, MA 01550

Crisis line: (508) 765-3035 or (877) 750-3127


Worcester County Site Office

361 Plantation Street, Second Floor, Worcester, MA 01605

Main number: (774) 420-3100

Towns served: Auburn, Boylston, Holden, Leicester, Paxton, Shrewsbury, West Boylston, Worcester


Worcester emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

U Mass Medical Center

Emergency Mental Health Services

55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01605

Crisis line: (508) 334-3562 or (866) 549-2142


Westborough Site Office

Hadley Building, 167 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581

Main number: (508) 616-2801

Towns served: Ashland, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough


Westborough emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Advocates' Psychiatric Emergency Services West

354 Waverly Street, Framingham, MA 01702

Crisis line: (508) 872-3333 or (800) 640-5432


Canton Site Office

Massachusetts Hospital School

Donovan Building, Second Floor

5 Randolph Street, Canton, MA 02021

Main number: (781) 401-9700

Towns served: Canton, Dedham, Foxboro, Medfield, Millis, Needham, Newton, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Wrentham


Canton emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Riverside Crisis Team

100 Lenox Street, Norwood, MA 02062

Crisis line: (781) 769-8674 or (800) 529-5077


Western Massachusetts


DMH Western Massachusetts Area Main Office

1 Prince Street, Northampton, MA 01060

Main number: (413) 587-6200


Berkshires Site Office

333 East Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201

Main number: (413) 395-2000

Towns served: Adams, Alford, Becket, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesboro, Lee, Lenox, Monroe, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Marlboro, North Adams, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown, Windsor


Berkshires emergency/crisis 24-hour response teams:


66 West Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201

Crisis line: (413) 499-0412


The Brien Center

359 Fenn Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201

Crisis line: (800) 252-0227


Franklin/North Quabbin Site Office

13 Prospect Street, Greenfield, MA 01301

Main number: (413) 772-5600

Towns served: Ashfield, Athol, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Rowe, Royalston, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Turners Falls, Warwick, Wendell, Whately


Franklin/North Quabbin emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Clinical and Support Options

140 High Street, Greenfield, MA 01301

Crisis line: (413) 774-5411 or (800) 562-0112


Hampshire Site Office

1 Prince Street, Northampton, MA 01060

Main number: (413) 587-6200

Towns served: Amherst, Chesterfield, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Hadley, Hatfield, Middlefield, Northampton, Pelham, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Worthington


Hampshire emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Clinical and Support Options

29 North Main Street, Florence, MA 01062

Crisis line: (413) 586-5555 or (844) 788-6470


Holyoke/Chicopee Site Office

140 High Street, Suite 525, Fifth Floor, Springfield, MA 01105

Main number: (413) 452-2300 or (877) 352-3881

Towns served: Belchertown, Bondsville, Chicopee, Granby Holyoke, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, South Hadley, Southampton, Thorndike, Three Rivers, Ware


Holyoke/Chicopee emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Behavioral Health Network Inc.

417 Liberty Street, Springfield, MA 01104

Crisis line: (413) 733-6661 or (800) 437-5922


Springfield Site Office

140 High Street, Suite 525, Fifth Floor, Springfield, MA 01105

Main number: (413) 452-2300 or (877) 352-3881

Towns served: East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Springfield, Wilbraham


Springfield emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

Behavioral Health Network Inc.

417 Liberty Street, Springfield, MA 01104

Crisis line: (413) 733-6661 or (800) 437-5922


Westfield Site Office

1 Prince Street, Northampton, MA 01060

Main number: (413) 587-6200

Towns served: Agawam, Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland, Westfield, West Springfield


Westfield emergency/crisis 24-hour response team:

77 Mill Street at Crane Pond, Westfield, MA 01085

Crisis line: (413) 568-6386


Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in Massachusetts. These federally-funded programs provide medical and mental health services to people in underserved communities. Their goal is to deliver high-quality coordinated care to people with complex needs and to link behavioral healthcare with primary medical care. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers sliding scale fees to people without insurance. You can search for FQHCs using the online search tool on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. You can also find more information about FQHCs in Massachusetts by visiting the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers' website.

 

How Does Massachusetts' Public Mental Health System Work?

In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. New laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. These programs would provide the resources people needed to manage their conditions while living at home. Many states' public mental health programs trace their origins back to this period. 


Massachusetts is no exception. The state enacted its own community mental health law in 1966, which authorized the construction of community mental health programs across the state. With the support of the public, legislators passed laws expanding the state's community mental health program in 1978 and 1986. By 1989, Massachusetts had established a statewide network of community mental health programs that directly provided case management, day treatment, outpatient care, crisis intervention, and other services.

Unlike most other states, Massachusetts' mental health system is not county-based. Instead, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) oversees five regional offices which in turn manage several site offices. Each site office is assigned to a specific set of towns instead of to a set of counties.


Another thing that makes Massachusetts' public mental health system different is that fewer outpatient services are associated with it. In the past, DMH directly provided some mental health services to clients and contracted with private agencies to provide others. This changed after the state's healthcare reform law was passed in 2006. 


This law, which served as the precursor to the national Affordable Care Act, created a statewide insurance exchange where people could sign up for healthcare coverage if they did not have an employer-based plan and did not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. As a result, most people seeking therapy or other outpatient mental health services in Massachusetts are directed to sign up for insurance using the  Massachusetts Health Connector and find providers in their network.


Now that this law has made health insurance more accessible in Massachusetts, the role of DMH has been heavily restricted. Today, the stated purpose of DMH is to focus on individuals with the most severe forms of mental illness who need services not covered by regular insurance. As in most states, anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis can use the public mental health crisis response system and hotlines in Massachusetts. However, to access all other public mental health care, people must submit an application and meet strict eligibility requirements.


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