Boston — Thursday, December 29, 2011 — The Patrick-Murray Administration announced today that Barbara Leadholm, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, will step down on January 31 to assume a new role as a Principal in the Boston office of Health Management Associates, Inc. In this new position, she will continue her efforts to improve the integration of behavioral health services into the health care system as the nation prepares to fully implement federal health care reform. Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health Services Marcia Fowler will serve as Interim Commissioner.
“Commissioner Leadholm has an unmatched commitment to ensuring that people with mental illness have access to high quality services and opportunities for recovery,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “On behalf of the Commonwealth, I am thankful for her leadership and service, and I know she will continue to show leadership in advocating for the importance of behavioral health services in the broader health care system.”
“Barbara Leadholm has led the Department of Mental Health with a profound dedication to promoting recovery and resiliency for people with mental illness,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. “Under her leadership, the agency has made it a priority to support consumers in achieving successful recoveries in the community.”
Barbara Leadholm has served as Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health since 2007. Under her leadership, the agency has made significant strides in implementing the Community First initiative as part of its continuum of quality services for people with serious mental illness. In launching Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS), the Department demonstrated its goal of supporting all consumers in their realization of achieving successful recoveries in the community. The accelerated closure of Westborough State Hospital within nine months highlights Commissioner Leadholm’s and her staff’s ability to address the changing needs of individuals and plan for their appropriate discharge while developing significant new community resources. Commissioner Leadholm, along with the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management, also managed the design and groundbreaking of the new Worcester State Hospital, a 320-bed state-of-the-art facility that will help foster recovery and rehabilitation. Commissioner Leadholm’s leadership and engagement with other child-serving agencies, including MassHealth, have helped realize the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative, an effort that allowed the state to reach beyond remedy services to achieve a shared vision of family and child voice in the design and implementation of community services for children with serious emotional disturbance and their families.
“It has been a privilege as Commissioner to lead Massachusetts’s transformation of the mental health system to a recovery and community based system of services and supports,” said Commissioner Leadholm. “I am proud of the Department’s leadership team and line staff who developed community based flexible services and work every day with some of our most vulnerable residents. We know that treatment is effective and early identification and intervention can lessen the interruption in a person’s education, employment and social connections. Health care reform offers the unique opportunity to integrate mental health and substance use services into mainstream health care; in linking with the community and rehabilitation services individuals with mental illness can live productive and satisfying lives.”
Marcia Fowler has served as Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health Services since January 2009 and has been responsible for the operations of all state and contracted mental health inpatient and community-based programs and services, as well as monitoring and oversight. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Commissioner, she served the Department as North East Area Director and as Director of Investigations.
About the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, DMH provides services to adults, children and adolescents with long-term or serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance; provides early and ongoing treatment for mental illness; and conducts research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness. Through state-operated inpatient facilities and community mental health centers and through community services and programs provided by nearly 200 mental health providers, DMH directly serves 21,000 citizens, including about 3,500 children and adolescents, with severe and persistent mental illness and serious emotional disturbance.
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By Lexie Lindskog
Hey you…. Yes you I see you. I see you trying to hide your pain, and mask what you’re going through. I don’t know your story and I can’t claim I feel your pain, but I want you to know something. You have a purpose, you have a story, and you have a beauty that only you can claim. I wish I could be with you and hold your hand during the dark nights and to tell you it’s going to be okay. I wish you could see that even in the darkness you have a light be it ever so dim that radiates. I know the darkness may feel safe and has tricked you that it is your new home. I can say with confidence and experience, that it is not. You have purpose and its not to be hidden away in the shadows.
So when you are ready take a deep breath, and grab the hands of those waiting to help you break free from the darkness’ grip. They are there to support you on your journey, and to remind you of your worth and your value. This is only the beginning my beautiful and courageous friend, but before you go, one more thing. This journey is going to be hard, and filled with many more obstacles. In those times remember the feeling you have in this moment, hold on to it and let it be your flash light as you journey on. I have every bit of confidence that you can do this, and I don’t even have to know your name or see your face. You have taken the hardest step of all, asking for help and stepping out of the darkness. Words cannot express how proud I am of you and I can’t wait to see where this journey will take you. You have a purpose, you have a story, and you have a beauty that only you can claim.
My name is Lexie Lindskog, when I was 20 I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. While in college I started to use cutting as an outlet for my inner pain. I have been so blessed to have been given the opportunity to share my struggles with others through being on a former MTV show called The Buried Life. I now dedicate as much time as I can bringing awareness and reminding others that they are not alone and that ” Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of great courage and bravery.” www.lexiefromtbl.blogspot.com
Testimony for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) on the FY 2013 Budget
Submitted December 8, 2011
My name is Laurie Martinelli, and I am the Executive Director the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Massachusetts). Thank you for this opportunity to submit testimony on the FY 2013 budget. NAMI’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families. NAMI has 20 local chapters around the state and over 2,000 members statewide.
“Twelve days after Jared Lee Loughner shot his way into the American psyche outside a Tucson, AZ grocery store on January 8, a 25-year-old mental health counselor in Revere, MA was kidnapped from a group home and savagely killed, allegedly by one of her clients.
Nine days later, it happened again when a homeless 19-year-old with a history of mental problems reportedly stabbed a shelter worker to death in Lowell, MA, just 30 miles away. No one can say for sure whether either murder had anything to do with funding cutbacks that have decimated the state’s mental health budget, but on the front lines in the war on mental illness, counselors are concerned.”
These two paragraphs, from a March 20, 2011 report of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting entitled “Bay State Mental Health – A Funding Crisis” don’t just sound an alarm, they paint a vivid and frightening picture of the state of the mental health system in Massachusetts. Sadly, the distress call grows increasingly urgent with each dollar cut. Mental health services have already been disproportionately hit, and any further budget cuts will lead to further degradation of mental health services, putting enormous strains on emergency departments, police responses, the court system, and jails. All of this will lead to an enormous cost-shifting – to hospitals, police departments, court system and jails – and, indeed, to cost increases because people with mental illness will go to hospitals when their community-based supports have been eroded, and they may end up in encounters with the police, courts and jails, none of which is adequately prepared to meet the needs of individuals with serious mental illness. There will be an increased cost to taxpayers and an immeasurable increase in suffering by individuals whose biologically-based illnesses no one would choose to have.
The jobs for people who care for those with mental illness have been decreased through budget cuts. The availability of beds in facilities that care for people with mental illness has been reduced throughout the state. And the reality is that the state of Massachusetts has not adequately funded the Department of Mental Health for the past several years. Currently, the budget for the Department of Mental Health is $629.8 million dollars. This amount is $55 million less what the Department of Mental Health budget was in FY 2009 (back then the DMH budget was $685.4).
This is an 8.1 percent cut. The Department of Mental Health has had to eliminate entire programs including three specific day services:
1. The Support, Education and Employment (SEE) program;
2. Day Rehabilitation Treatment Programs;
3. Social Clubs;
4. Two PACT teams (Programs for Assertive Community Treatment);
5. There has also been a loss of 156 hospital beds: 150 beds from Westborough State hospital’s accelerated closure two and a half years ago, and the elimination of 16 beds at the Quincy Mental Health Center.
NAMI National recently completed a budget report on state general funds allocated to state mental health agencies for all 50 states. This report shows that Massachusetts is ranked 11th in the nation when it comes to cutting state mental health budgets. As compared to other New England states, Massachusetts has had the most mental health cuts, followed by New Hampshire, with a 1.3% cut. 1 Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont all increased their mental health budgets during this same period. For a full copy of the report for state-by-state data: www.nami.org/budgetcuts.
As the Commonwealth touts its health care image on the national stage, the deep cuts to the mental health budget tell a different story. Numbers speak louder than words: the Commonwealth needs a budget for the Department of Mental Health that meets the needs of individuals with mental illness.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony. Madame Secretary, we hope the cuts of prior hears can be restored to the Department of Mental Health. At a minimum, the Department of Mental Health needs to operate at the level it did in FY 2009 when it had an annual budget of $685.4 million.
1 National Alliance on Mental Illness: State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis, November 2011.
Maine – 15.4% increase
Rhode Island – 10.6% increase
Connecticut – 5.8% increase
Vermont – 1.0 % increase
New Hampshire – 1.3 % decrease
Massachusetts – 8.1 % decrease