ServiceNet to expand mental health services with $4M grant 

Published: 01-15-2023 8:56 PM


Staff Writer

NORTHAMPTON — ServiceNet, the large nonprofit human service agency headquartered in Northampton, intends to use a significant $4 million grant from the federal government to extend and expand a two-year-old pilot program designed to remove barriors to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. 

“The grant is to provide integrated, comprehensive expanded services for the community,” said Karen Franklin, vice president of outpatient services. “Initially, we were only able to provide therapy and psychiatry services, because we’d bill third party and that was how we supported the clinicians.”

The four-year grant, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will enable ServiceNet’s certified community behavioral health clinics — at 50 Pleasant St. in Northampton and at 55 Federal St. in Greenfield — to provide case management, recovery coaching, peer mentors and nursing services. Before getting the initial grant, the agency offered an outpatient clinic providing therapy and medication.

“People have always come to us with these needs, but we didn’t have the resources to provide what they needed,” Franklin said. “It definitely offers the ability to provide really comprehensive care.”

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Speaking from the ServiceNet outpatient clinic in Greenfield, James Flood, program director of certified community behavioral health clinics, said that between the two clinics, the grant-funded program serves about 190 clients.

“One of the hallmarks of how our program has made an impact ... is in recovery coaching, which is an emphasis on peer-led substance use recovery,” said Flood, noting Greenfield and the region hasn’t been immune to the impacts of the opioid epidemic. “The more resources we have for substance use recovery, the better a community is served in terms of behavioral and mental health in general.”

Flood said that between the two clinics, there are eight staff members: two case managers, a nurse, a clinician, a peer specialist and a tobacco cessation specialist, in addition to two recovery coaches. ServiceNet hopes to grow that number to 12 staff members with the grant. Flood said he’s hiring for a case manager in Greenfield and a nurse in Northampton.

“This grant … allows us to hire people that insurance wouldn’t otherwise cover,” he explained.

Flood and Franklin both said the program is also trying to focus more on young adults, as well as other underserved members of the community, including the LGBTQ population and veterans.

“What we’ve seen is that the need for mental health services has increased,” Franklin said. “The years of the pandemic were already challenging for people who already had mental health issues.”

Through the grant, Franklin said, the behavioral health clinics can provide services to people who have never been able to receive them.

“Just being able to have a team approach to the people we serve who have these needs, we’re very grateful for that,” she said. “Like they say, it takes a village, and it takes a mental health village (for people) who have all these needs.”

Flood added that he really believes that the certified community behavioral health clinics approach “is the future of behavioral health.”

“We have to address people as multi-faceted individuals,” he explained. “People are more than just a mental illness diagnosis or substance use diagnosis. … People are whole people, and in order to help heal and address whatever issues might be going on in someone’s life, we have to address everything at once.”