CHICOPEE — Less than 14 hours after a new all-service mental health clinic opened on Tuesday, social workers had already set up treatment plans for at least 10 people, crisis teams had responded to two locations and staff were fielding frequent calls from more people seeking help.
Counselors, nurses and social workers at Gateway, the Center for Human Development’s new community behavioral health center, were more than happy to put aside the move-in tasks of setting up chairs and hanging pictures so they could provide much-need care for people who have been suffering through mental health and substance issues and were unsure of where to go, said Christy O’Brien, a licensed social worker and program director for the new clinic.
In their last week in office, one of Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Karyn Polito’s parting gifts to the state was to launch an initiative to better handle the growing mental health crisis. The administration partnered with multiple health care providers such as the Center for Human Development and Springfield’s Behavioral Health Network to open 25 community behavioral health centers and a behavioral health hotline.
In Chicopee, the center will be open around-the-clock with walk-in hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and crisis counselors available at any time through the center’s hotline number of 833-243-8255.
The clinics are each designed to serve a region. Gateway, for example, covers Chicopee, Holyoke, Ludlow, South Hadley, Belchertown, Granby, Monson, Palmer, Southampton, and Ware; as well as individuals from any region who are already receiving CHD services, O’Brien said.