NORWOOD – General Manager Tony Mazzucco and Health Department Superintendent Sigalle Reiss are pleased to announce that the Norwood Health Department was recently awarded a Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The grant will total $625,000 over five years and has allowed the Health Department to hire a full-time Program Director to oversee and manage the training program. The town is pleased to welcome Francesca Golightly to this role.
The grant will enable the Health Department to train all Town of Norwood employees, Norwood Public Schools educators and primary care physicians in Mental Health First Aid. The training provides an opportunity for staff to learn and recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to respond to a situation that requires mental health care and how to refer an individual to care using the community agencies the grant partners with — Riverside Community Care, Norwood Behavioral Health and NAMI South Shore.
Data demonstrates that there is a growing need for mental health care in Norwood. Public safety records show that between January and December 2020, 51% of calls made to Emergency Medical Services were related to mental health. By training staff in Mental Health First Aid, the Town of Norwood can appropriately respond to mental health concerns by efficiently and reliably referring individuals to the proper care.
In addition to training, the town aims to increase knowledge and awareness of mental health and the resources that are available to residents with or without mental illness. A directory of mental health services will be developed for those trained in Mental Health First Aid and will be shared with the general public. The directory will include the mental health agencies collaborating on this grant, contact information, hours of operation, services offered, accepted insurance and the languages available at each agency.
Through a partnership with Norwood Community Media, there will also be a variety of social marketing campaigns and public service announcements that will focus on educating residents about the importance of mental health care and work toward reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The grant distribution will occur over five years with an overall goal of reducing the number of residents and students experiencing poor mental health.
“Increasing the number of town employees, teachers and physicians trained in Mental Health First Aid is an incredible step in the right direction,” Director Golightly said. “But, we are equally dedicated to normalizing mental health and reducing the stigma associated with seeking support and treatment. This funding will help us assist those who are struggling with mental illness and their loved ones find the local care and resources that best fit their needs, with the goal of improving overall mental wellness in our community.”
For additional information about the Health Department’s work or to find contact information, click here.