Health New England Donates $2,500 to MHA
Grant to Fund Guides for COVID-19 Intensive Response for Individuals in Recovery

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Due to the impact and disruptions COVID-19 is causing on the families, individuals and businesses that live, work and play in our community, Health New England is responding with its COVID-19 Response Mini Grant program, according to Katie Bruno, MPH, Public Health and Wellness Program Manager for Health New England.

“Health New England’s COVID-19 Response Mini Grant provides flexible resources to local non-profit organizations that are supporting our most vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19,” Bruno said. “We are pleased to announce a grant award of $2,500 to the Mental Health Association to help the agency provide needed supports for people in recovery from substance use who must shelter in their homes as a result of the current health crisis. The population MHA expects to serve with this funding is especially vulnerable to the resulting health risks of isolation, anxiety and depression. We are pleased to support this critical and timely response.”

According to Sara Kendall, MSW, LICSW, Vice President of Clinical Operations for MHA, Health New England’s $2,500 grant will support two MHA Guides/Certified Recovery Coaches who will establish and maintain frequent, intensive connections with individuals served via phone and/or teleconferencing. Health New England’s grant funding will enable MHA to provide intensive Recovery Coaching services for people in recovery, ranging in age from young adults to elders, who have no health insurance or whose health insurance does not cover this care.

“For people in recovery, the stress related to our current health crisis can put them at increased risk of relapse and the associated risk of overdose death,” said Kendall. “Providing individuals with access to a social connection who has lived experience with addiction for guidance, as well as access to resources to help meet their individual needs, can help those served to maintain their mental and physical health and wellness in a time of heightened stress. The Health New England grant is special because it will fund more highly, personalized intensive recovery services for a shorter period of time.”

Kendall explained that the MHA Guides will assess the current situation of each individual served via a wellness plan to help identify their needs, and then work with them to access resources in the community that meet those needs. Guides will utilize MHA’s TeleWell telehealth app, which enables “face-to-face” virtual interaction via smartphone, tablet or computer. In cases where interaction in person is warranted, and as Massachusetts re-opening restrictions permit, it is possible for MHA Guides to meet clients in person, using social distancing protocols and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, either at MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health and Wellness Center or in the community.

“BestLife, which opened in March 2019, has served more than 300 individuals from the city and throughout the Greater Springfield area in just its first year,” said Kendall. “MHA began planning for our new TeleWell telehealth service last year to help make BestLife’s services even more accessible. We launched TeleWell in January 2020, just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 health crisis. TeleWell has proved to be a crucial service for providing mental health counseling for a range of issues, including substance use addiction, especially for people with underlying health conditions that make them especially susceptible to COVID-19.”

For those who would like to learn more or to benefit from the supportive services of a MHA Recovery Coach/Guide, please contact BestLife at 844-MHA-WELL.

About MHA

What We Do
MHA (Mental Health Association) helps people live their best life. We provide access to therapies for emotional health and wellness; services for substance use recovery, developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury; services for housing and residential programming, and more. With respect, integrity and compassion, MHA provides each individual served through person-driven programming to foster independence, community engagement, wellness and recovery.

Why We Matter
The youth, adults, seniors and families we serve want the same things in life as anyone: to have friends, work, go to school, have meaningful relationships, express themselves (and be heard), and be accepted in their community for who they are. With our help and resources from a caring community, people can live their potential, in their community, every day.

How We Think
Starting in the 1960s, MHA’s groundbreaking efforts and advocacy helped to transition people away from institutional living to a life in our community. This became a model for the deinstitutionalization movement. Today, our leadership continues to advance awareness of mental health conditions and needs at local, regional and national levels. We drive compassionate care for those challenged by mental health, developmental disabilities, substance use, homelessness, acquired brain injury and more.

About Health New England

Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, Health New England is a not-for-profit health plan serving members in Massachusetts and Connecticut. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Baystate Health, Health New England offers a range of health care plans in the commercial, Medicaid and Medicare markets. For more information, visit www.healthnewengland.org.