MassHealth Funding Will Improve Health Care Access to Those Served by MHA

SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – The Mental Health Association (MHA) has been awarded a grant totaling $43,640.65 from the Provider Access Improvement Grant Program of MassHealth. As the name suggests, this grant is designed to improve access to health providers for clients covered by MassHealth. Funds are helping MHA acquire technology enabling real-time language translation, adaptive technology for persons with communication disabilities, equipment and software applications to enable and enhance provider/client interactions, and marketing and outreach to local communities in which English is not the primary language.

Kimberley A. Lee, VP Resource Development & Branding for MHA, said the grant is a smart investment. “Moving forward, MHA will be able to make care for mental health, substance use recovery and related services much more accessible to persons who face a language barrier, who are unable to speak or who are limited in ability to express themselves. The equipment and applications we are acquiring are  state-of-the-art in their respective market segments, which makes them an investment for the long term. What’s more, we will cut the cost of traditional translation services, which is considerable, while simultaneously improving access to care.”

“This grant allows MHA to reach pockets of the local population who otherwise would go without mental health services they need simply because of a language barrier,” said Sara Kendall, MSW, LICSW, Vice President of Clinical Operations for MHA. “Technology will effectively remove that barrier, enabling our clinicians to promote better emotional health and wellness in the community. The need is acute, as there is a shortage of live interpreters. This shortage creates a waitlist for treatment and often inhibits our ability to provide real-time services in crisis situations. New devices acquired through this grant give us the benefit of immediacy. For example, new Jarvisen Instant Real Time Two-Way Voice systems enable real-time language translation between any of 60 supported languages. And LifeSize icon phones will enable video and audio calls and web conferences, making virtual collaboration easier and more effective.”

A technology made available by the grant will benefit residents of MHA’s New Way acquired brain injury homes. “Speak for Yourself is an augmentative and alternative communication app developed by speech language pathologists,” said Sara Kyser, Vice President of MHA’s New Way Division which provides programming for those affected by Acquired Brain  Injuries. “It turns an iPad into a communication device, giving a voice to adults who are not able to speak or are limited in their ability to express themselves verbally. Restrictions arising from COVID now mean that our New Way residents visit their primary care physicians and specialist providers virtually, but computers in our residences were not equipped with cameras. This grant allows us to add appropriate cameras, increasing access to care for our residents.”

“Funding for technology like this is hard to come by in any environment,” said Lee. “In the midst of a pandemic, when businesses and foundations are themselves being stretched, it’s incredible that MHA can make these much needed purchases with funding we otherwise would not have. We are extremely grateful for this grant and the opportunity to improve access to care for those we serve.”

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 with 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.