Riverside Creates MassSupport Network In Statewide Pandemic Response
Riverside Community Care has been called upon by the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to provide crisis counseling throughout the state in response to the growing and often overwhelming psychological consequences of the COVID crisis.
As the virus sickened and killed thousands, while it wiped out jobs and businesses throughout the spring, the ensuing fear and anxiety generated substantial behavioral health challenges – in those enduring the stress of losing their livelihoods, those reporting to essential on-site jobs knowing they risked contact with the virus, and those caring for – or losing – someone close who contracted COVID.
Through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following a federal disaster declaration, MEMA and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health have asked the Riverside Trauma Center to deploy its trauma response and crisis intervention expertise in a statewide initiative – called the MassSupport Network – to bring behavioral health resources, information, and referrals directly to individuals and communities.
In the first phase of the project, MassSupport is organized into three teams: Eastern Mass., Western Mass., and a team supporting the Mass 2-1-1 call center. In this phase, through the end of June, the teams will deploy outreach counselors and clinicians to provide Psychological First Aid in the form of basic education and counseling around issues related to the pandemic, while assessing high-risk individuals for additional referrals. An anticipated nine-month extension of the project through the spring of 2021 will build on that work to provide more crisis counseling for the lasting effects of the pandemic, community education on coping with ongoing stress and building emotional resilience, and assistance for people applying for services to relieve crisis-related burdens. The extension will allow for the creation of three additional teams to further support individuals and communities throughout the state.
To tailor assistance to the wide variety of populations representing different racial, ethnic, and language communities throughout Massachusetts, Riverside responders will gather input from local community and public health leaders, school personnel, and first responders; work with mental health and substance use providers to create networks and streamline referrals; and disseminate targeted information via outreach efforts and social media.
The work is big but we’re getting started. We’re eager to update you on our progress as we go along.