LYNNFIELD — A phone call or a few taps on a keyboard now connect residents to a mental health referral network linked to 8,000 health professionals.
Operated by Newton-based William James College in partnership with the town, Interface is an outpatient mental health resource and referral service.
“Finding help shouldn’t be hard and Interface makes it easy. It’s a help line you can use,” said Peg Sallade, town substance abuse prevention coordinator.
She said the town is moving quickly to make residents familiar with Interface. Videos explaining the referral service are shown on local public access channels and available to watch on the town website.
Sallade said public school workers were versed in Interface basics prior to the start of school this week and she said a letter explaining the service is being sent to parents. Senior aid organizations and veterans representatives have also been receptive to the new service’s availability.
“We’ve had a great response with our August 12th kickoff meeting well participated in by town and school agencies,” Sallade said.
Dialing 1-888-244-6843 connects callers to William James employees trained in taking mental health calls.
Sallade emphasized Interface value as a help line, not a hotline. She urged anyone in a mental health emergency to immediately call 911 and said Eliot Mental Health provides services locally. Interface workers answering local calls will ask the caller to discuss their mental health needs and explain the range of resources available.
The call ends with the worker arranging to schedule an appointment for the caller with a mental health professional, typically within two weeks with prompt confirmation of the appointment.
“They get back to you in a very short period of time,” Sallade said.
Interface call takers are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Interface is valuable in reducing the amount of research and number of calls someone in need of mental health help undertakes before arranging an appointment with a care provider.
“Often you might not know what your need is but you are reaching out for help. Many times people are frustrated after making four or five calls. Interface does that for you,” Sallade said.
Connecting Lynnfield with Interface is an idea that grew out of spring and summer discussions among A Healthy Lynnfield members, including town, business community and medical profession members.
The group has made substance abuse prevention one of its priorities. But Sallade said members identified mental health as another important town concern. A Healthy Lynnfield and the town joined forces to allocate the $26,000 needed to pay for Interface services for town residents for the next two years.
“Interface says they serve 55 communities across Massachusetts including Wakefield and Reading,” said Sallade.