OP-ED: Framingham Facing Mental Health Crisis Due To COVID-19

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By Sheryl Goldstein

FRAMINGHAM – The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many Framingham residents’ daily lives. The result is that not only are we in danger from the COVID virus, but our community is also facing a crisis in our collective mental health.

Mental health has always been recognized in our society as something we need to address (with an uptick in social stresses) and we need to be more vigilant than ever of the issues facing our citizens young and old.

The pandemic has forced many of our residents into isolation – fearing that they will contract this awful virus. It has left many without jobs or the ability to pay for rent or their bills – thus making it difficult to care for their families. Others are having to manage childcare challenges while also working. The stress from these circumstances may produce increases in drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and even domestic violence as a result of the pandemic.

In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation just released a poll showing that a majority of American adults (53%) believes that the pandemic is harming their mental health.

However, my inspiration for this webinar came long before COVID arrived on our doorsteps. I had attended a special needs family workshop on mental health first aid and thought how wonderful and useful this would be for the community, especially because there are so many Framingham residents that have passed away due to opioid use and suicide.

I quickly enlisted the help of friend and neighbor Councilor Adam Steiner to help coordinate this idea and help form it into a reality. The program was quickly endorsed by Dr. Wong, Director of the Framingham Health Department, and sponsored by city officials and our entire state delegation.

The result is a free mental health webinar that is open to all Framingham residents on August 26, 2020 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

This webinar, led by Katelyn Dehey of Advocates Inc. and Officer Jason Ball of the Framingham Police Department, will provide helpful tips on identifying friends, family, and neighbors who may be facing a mental health challenge.

In addition, we’ll review the variety of resources that are available to Framingham residents who are facing a mental health challenge.

Pre-registration is required for this free event. We encourage anyone interested to register today at http://framinghammentalhealth.eventbrite.com/

The Zoom link will be e-mailed to all registered participants before the night of the event.

Sheryl L. Goldstein is a District 3 Resident and Framingham Disability Commissioner

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