“Our fear is that the pandemic has resulted in a mental health crisis for caregivers and children as a result of the incredible stressors COVID-19 has put on families,” said lead author Dr. Andrea E. Spencer. of study and assistant. professor of psychiatry at the BU School of Medicine, in the Health City article.
Separately on Tuesday, BMC psychiatrist Dr. Michelle P. Durham told a congressional committee that a large number of patients had arrived at her facility seeking mental health treatment since December.
“I have never seen our mental health care services stretch so far beyond their capacity as they currently are,” Durham said in an address to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, education, work and pensions. “Since the end of December 2021, we have had over 30 patients in our psychiatric emergency department, more than four times its capacity, showing a much higher level of acuity.”
Durham said her hospital has expertise linking “marginalized communities” to health and social services, and that BMC is in the “early stages” of implementing what she called a “housing approach to ‘First’ in partnership with the City of Boston.
The goal, she said, is to “ensure that people living on the street within walking distance of our hospital campus, often living with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues, are housed first , then provide comprehensive medical services and social supports.”
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration has been working to relocate hundreds of people who had been living in a sprawling homeless encampment near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard to more stable housing. with treatment options.
“Our [BMC] is also building an 82-bed psychiatric facility in nearby Brockton, Massachusetts to address the shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds and increase our ability to address mental health and mental health needs. addiction of our patients from across the region. Durham told lawmakers.
She said the facility is expected to provide 56 psychiatric inpatient beds and 26 clinical stabilization service beds.
“We estimate the project will involve a total of $27 million in sunk start-up costs, a barrier that the federal government could help reduce to incentivize capital investment to expand inpatient psychiatric capacity,” Durham said.
The need is great, she continued, with preliminary data from the CDC showing the United States eclipsed 100,000 annual drug overdose deaths for the first time ever, and black men had the highest increases.
“Even in Massachusetts, where we’ve seen population-wide drug overdose death rates level off in recent years, black male death rates stand out starkly, having increased 75% between 2019 and 2020,” Durham said.
She pointed out that communities of color are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19.
“And they are dying at disproportionate rates from substance use disorders, bearing the brunt of two worsening public health crises,” she said. “At the same time, black men have relatively low rates of mental health and addiction treatment. At BMC, we launched the Health Equity Accelerator to close the race-based health equity gap using data-driven, community-driven research to inform and change the way we approach care for black people and people of color.
Durham conceded that hospital officials don’t yet have “all the answers we’re looking for” in terms of treatment.
“We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and access is stretched across the mental health and addiction continuum,” Durham said. “That’s why it’s crucial to reauthorize funding to support states and localities that respond to mental health and addiction crises “in a flexible way.”