BOSTON (11/09/2021) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) helped the Massachusetts Senate unveil the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) (S2572), comprehensive legislation to continue the process of reforming the way mental health care is delivered in Massachusetts, with the goal of ensuring that people get the mental health care they need when they need it. This legislation comes at a time when the Massachusetts State Senate is making landmark investments in mental and behavioral health, including $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to transform the behavioral health sector, with $122 million dedicated to recruiting and retaining nearly 2,000 behavioral professionals.
The Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 is driven by the recognition that mental health is as important as physical health for every resident of the Commonwealth and should be treated as such. The bill proposes a wide variety of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care and remove barriers to care by supporting the behavioral health workforce.
“For far too long, mental health has been a forgotten component of our healthcare system, and we must address the persisting inequities—made painfully clear in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—in our delivery of mental health care,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill builds on the work the Senate has done over the last several years to improve our mental health system and takes a comprehensive approach to tackle our most pressing issues, such as expanding services to all corners of the Commonwealth, enforcing existing parity laws, and addressing the boarding crisis in our Emergency Departments that is impacting too many of our children and families. I want to sincerely thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Senator Cyr for their thoughtful collaboration on this legislation and for continuing to prioritize reforming our mental health care system this session so it is accessible, affordable, and equitable for all.”