BOSTON- On Nov. 1, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) was appointed Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. Friedman previously served as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service after she was sworn into the Senate in July following a special election to succeed the late Senator Ken Donnelly.
As Chair, Senator Friedman will play a significant leadership role as the Committee considers legislative matters related to behavioral health, drug detoxification, Department of Mental Health oversight, mental illness and substance use, mental illness and substance use treatment and services, and other associated issues.
“I’m honored to be appointed the Senate Chair of this Committee and to continue to fight for individuals who suffer from debilitating mental illness and substance use disorder,” said Senator Friedman. “In the midst of a mental health and opioid crisis, we need to do everything we can on the state-level to ensure that individuals with behavioral health conditions are able to get access to timely treatment that they need to manage their illness or addiction.”
According to a recent study highlighted in the Boston Globe, it can often take several months for people with mental health issues to get treatment. The wait is particularly long for children, those who need a psychiatrist, adults covered by Medicaid, and those who do not speak English.
Friedman continued, “This is work that I care deeply about and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee to improve the lives of those most vulnerable in our state.”
The Committee was previously chaired by former Senator Jen Flanagan (D-Leominster) before she resigned from the Senate to take a position on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
Prior to becoming state Senator this August, Friedman spent nearly a decade working as chief of staff to the late Senator Ken Donnelly, helping to craft and advocate for comprehensive legislation to preserve and expand access to behavioral health treatment.
In an effort to continue Donnelly’s legacy, Senator Friedman has taken the lead on all of the bills that Senator Donnelly originally filed at the start of the current legislative session, including those related to mental health and substance use.
In addition to her role as Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health Substance Use and Recovery, Friedman will also serve in a leadership capacity as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service and will continue to serve as a member of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
All bills currently before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery can be found here.
Friedman represents the 4th Middlesex district, which includes Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn, and precincts 1-2 and 4-7 in Lexington.