Posted: January 19, 2023

Springfield, MA – Today, Congressman Richard E. Neal joined Mental Health Association, Inc. (MHA) President & CEO Cheryl Fasano to announce a $513,000 earmark to support MHA’s BestLife Center for Emotional Health and Wellness.

The allocation was made possible through Congressionally Direct Spending (CDS) from the Department of Education. Congressman Neal included funding for this project in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on December 29, 2022.

“For far too long, Americans have shied away from conversations about mental health, contributing to the stigma around mental illness, and consequently deterring patients from seeking care. Thanks to organizations such as MHA, these conversations have been brought to the forefront of our nation’s healthcare system,” said Congressman Neal. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a staggering increase in reporting relative to symptoms of anxiety or depression. Thankfully, western and central Massachusetts is fortunate to have regional providers who are committed to providing critical services to residents. The funding for MHA’s BestLife Center for Emotional Health and Wellness will ensure they have the resources needed to continue serving our communities.”

MHA President & CEO Cheryl Fasano stated, “The Mental Health Association is deeply humbled for the incredibly generous support of the Expanding Access to Mental Health Services community project. Congressman Neal demonstrates, time and time again, his commitment to making the Pioneer Valley community thrive. This funding will support the BestLife Center for Emotional Health and Wellness, a licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic that is an integral part of our operations, as well as allowing MHA to increase the capacity of our clinical operations while expanding services to address the critical need for mental health services. MHA serves some of the most vulnerable members of our local community. Receiving this support means we can serve more people, more efficiently, during their greatest times of need.”

MHA’s plans for this funding include:

  1. Permitting the technological preparation and office-outfitting for a larger, more accessible new facility.
  2. Expanding more immediate access to mental health services.
  3. Hiring new clinical staff and developing a larger patient capacity.
  4. Procuring additional equipment to enhance access to telehealth and reduce lengthy client waitlists.
  5. Improving the electronic health record platforms.

Under guidelines issued by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, members of Congress requested CDS funding for projects in their state for Fiscal Year 2023. CDS requests were restricted to a limited number of federal funding streams, and only state and local governments, and eligible non-profit entities, were permitted to receive CDS funding.

This project is one of fifteen CDS projects submitted by Congressman Neal, totaling over $20 million in investments throughout the First Congressional District of Massachusetts.