Town enrolls in mental health referral service program

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A new mental health referral service is now available for North Attleborough Public School (NAPS) students and residents.

On Aug. 1, the town joined the INTERFACE Referral Service provided by William James College in Newton, Massachusetts.

According to Human Health Coordinator Joan Badger and NAPS Director of Student Services Margaret Camrie, INTERFACE provides personalized referrals to 10,000 licensed mental health providers based on the specific needs and preferences of the individual seeking help.

Within two weeks of the initial call to the helpline, INTERFACE connects individuals who have specific needs to a licensed and vetted professional best suited for them, regardless of their insurance plan.

Needs can range from anxiety, depression, grief and loss, self-injury, feelings of self-harm, family issues, adoption, autism, and other mental health-related issues.

These professionals provide both in-person and virtual services for that person and will schedule appointments at any time convenient for them.

Town Manager Michael Borg made the INTERFACE service available to North Attleborough by allocating some of the $1.3 million in funds which North Attleborough received from the commonwealth’s Opioid Settlement.

“By allocating these funds, the town aims to encourage early identification and intervention for families, children, or adolescents who may be struggling with drug use or mental health conditions,” Badger said. “Additionally, the funds support greater access to mental health services and support for young people, both within schools and the broader community, to address mental health needs and reduce the risk of opioid and other drug misuse.”

In a November 2022 report, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts found that in-person and virtual visits for mental health care have increased 100 percent since 2019.

According to the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, “approximately 36 percent of children from ages 0 to 17 experienced at least one form of trauma, abuse, or significant stress in the prior year, with almost 14 percent experiencing multiple traumas.”

Local support for mental health

The community has held events and programs to raise awareness about youth mental health for the past two years.

On May 20, 2022, Cassie’s Cause, a foundation dedicated to increasing education and awareness around mental health and preventing suicide in young adults, held an auction at the Preservation Framer in honor of Cassie Jia-Lin Chee, who died from suicide at 17.

On Sept. 19, 2022, the Active Minds chapters of King Phillip’s Regional and North Attleboro High Schools collaborated on creating a Send Silence Packing display. The display featured backpacks placed in rows across a football field with corresponding pictures of students who suffer from depression and have committed suicide.

The referral service is free and confidential, running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

You can seek a referral at 617-332-3666 (local) or 888-244-6843 (toll-free).