MOC Advisory Center opens in Fitchburg
FITCHBURG – Making Opportunity Count hosted the grand opening of its first outpatient mental health clinic, The Counseling Center at MOC, on Monday inside its program headquarters on Nursery Lane.
The event featured remarks from Making Opportunity Count executives, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, State Senator John Cronin, D-Lunenburg, State Representative Michael Kushmerek, D-Fitchburg, from Mayor Stephen DiNatale, and a dedication ceremony after a tour of the clinic.
The clinic grew out of a need for accessible mental health services in the area and the reduction in the long months of waits that it typically takes to access these types of services. Making Opportunities Count Vice President of Programs Scott Carignan said the agency has gathered feedback and interviewed community members over the years about their needs.
“It kept coming back to needing more mental health services,” he said. “It was time to respond to the needs of the community, to do our best and to open the clinic.
Making Opportunity Count Executive Director Kevin Reed said it was personally important for him to help make the clinic a reality “as a person who has struggled with mental health issues for years.”
“Our work in community action is founded on identifying and filling the gaps in essential services so that our communities can thrive,” he said. “For too long, individuals and families in north central Massachusetts have struggled to receive the mental health care they need. We are proud to invest in a facility that will increase access to the quality care and essential services that our community deserves.
Kushmerek, a member of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Addiction, said her mother passed away this year after a lifetime of mental health issues.
“I would ask her how she was and she would always say ‘not okay’,” Kushmerek said. “We have to normalize that… that it’s okay to admit you’re not having a good day. We are so often hesitant to talk about our mental health.
Cronin, Kushmerek, and Trahan all applauded Making Opportunity Count for its efforts to provide mental health services.
“We have to meet the challenge with resources and services,” Cronin said. “I am very grateful to your staff and your organization, you provide dignity and care to a population that needs and deserves it. “
Trahan echoed those sentiments, saying Making Opportunity Count “diagnosed something that was rampant before the COVID-19 crisis,” the mental health crisis.
“I really have to hand it over to MOC,” she said. This “is more than ever necessary”
The MOC was established in 1966 (and was originally called the Montachusett Opportunity Council) with the primary purpose of promoting the well-being of low-income people in towns and villages in north-central Massachusetts with the mission of empowering families the means to achieve economic security by removing barriers and creating opportunities. MOC’s service area encompasses 30 towns and villages in the region, including Ashburnham, Ashby, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Leominster, Shirley, Townsend and Westminster, and it strives to fulfill its purpose by providing direct services, working with other public and private entities and by applying comprehensive strategies that help to solve the complex problems of poverty.
“The MOC counseling center will help us serve the community by providing access to high-quality mental health services that can help our clients reduce anxiety, improve mood, increase self-esteem and gain a greater sense of calm overall, ”Carignan mentioned. “We have struggled to connect clients with this much-needed health care and have struggled to help clients with other basic needs such as housing, nutrition and financial literacy as their needs most fundamentals, including mental health, were not being met and were preventing them from making progress in these areas. By creating the advice center, we hope to change this story and help our clients find new opportunities.
Core MOC programs include Head Start, North Central WIC, Family Resource Center, and Meals on Wheels, some of which are under the same roof as the new Mental Health Clinic which has four private and one-to-one consultation rooms and two meeting rooms. group consultation.
Carrigan said he had “made big investments” for the clinic, including electronic check-in kiosks, dividers in the reception area, brand new furniture, high-definition cameras in the rooms for remote sessions, records electronic health care systems and an agency-wide electronic referral system. , a website dedicated only to the clinic, white noise pumped into the clinic area, and more, “all in place now”.
Clinic staff members include a full-time director, a bilingual medical assistant, five master’s level psychotherapists and they are looking to hire additional staff. Carrigan said they welcome clients from all walks of life, such as MassHealth, Medicare and private health insurance plans, as well as those from the LGBTQ + community.
“These people deserve the highest level of service,” he said. “We hope we can be a beacon of light.”
For more information and a complete list of programs and services, visit www.counselingatmoc.org and www.mocinc.org.