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Lynnfield putting the finishing touches on streamlining residents’ access to mental health services

Town substance abuse prevention coordinator Peg Sallade is excited to help bring the mental health referral service INTERFACE to Lynnfield in August. (Thor Jourgensen)

LYNNFIELD — Town health coalition members said a mental health access service set to debut this summer will reduce anxiety and frustration for families desperate for help.

The William James College INTERFACE referral service in Newton connects those with specific mental health problems with what its website describes as an “extensive database” of mental health professionals.

A Healthy Lynnfield, the town’s substance abuse prevention and health awareness coalition, discussed the referral service at its Monday meeting. Members will publicize INTERFACE’s phone number in advance of its launch on Aug. 15. 

Calls to INTERFACE will be answered by a William James mental health worker who will ask questions and match the description of the resident’s mental health concern with a specific provider capable of addressing the problem.

“It’s an example of how Lynnfield can be a supportive community. We can never have enough resources,” said Peg Sallade, town substance abuse prevention coordinator. 

The ability to match calls for help to professionals can streamline the sometimes-challenging process of finding the right provider to deal with a problem, said Sallade.

“This helps access the provider that much faster,” she said. “But it’s only effective to the degree the larger community knows about it.” 

William James offers its referral service on a community-by-community basis. The town is providing half of the $12,000 annual price tag for providing the service with a grant covering the other half. 

Sallade and Victoria Torres-Vega, a licensed clinical social worker, said instant access to mental health professionals helps families with adolescents.

“The primary presenting problem among adolescents is anxiety,” Sallade said.

Torres-Vega is starting to offer counseling from Centre Congregational Church on Summer Street. She said families are often overwhelmed in their initial search for a mental health professional.

“This would be super helpful for families,” she said. “The first step is so crucial.” 

Sallade said Wakefield, Reading and Melrose use INTERFACE. Town Administrator and former Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan said INTERFACE use in Melrose increased from five calls by residents to the service in the first year the service was offered to 56 in the second year and 200 in the third. 

A Healthy Lynnfield members also discussed preparations for the addiction awareness and substance abuse prevention walk, A Night of Hope, scheduled for Sept. 22. 

Plans call for adorning homes with purple ribbons and placing purple lights in windows along the walk route between Lynnfield Middle School and the Town Common.

The walk is close to Carmella Dalton’s heart. Her son, Michael, died in 2018 and the Dalton family has established Think of Michael scholarships and services. A Healthy Lynnfield is inviting town groups and organizations to participate in the walk followed by speakers. 

“The more groups we get together, the more impact we will make,” Dalton said. 


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