May is Mental Health Awareness Month in recognition that caring for one’s mental health is just as important as caring for one’s physical health, which had not always been the case.
Most, if not all, of our readers know someone who has needed to address mental health issues — perhaps yourself, a family member, a friend, a business acquaintance or someone in your neighborhood. This leads us to wonder how many of you are aware of the existence of the Marblehead Counseling Center.
Located next to Hobbs Playground at 66 Clifton Ave., MCC has been providing a wide range of mental health services to residents of all ages from Marblehead and surrounding communities since its inception in 1969 when a group of parents, concerned about rising drug use in town, joined forces to address the issue.
Over the years, MCC has grown and expanded its scope of mental health and social services such that approximately 7,000 therapy sessions now occur each year, addressing such conditions as severe anxiety, depression, social isolation, substance abuse, marital and family issues, and major mental health diagnoses.
Ten therapists, three interns and a part-time psychiatrist comprise its staff, and a group of volunteer citizens serve on its board of directors, advancing the agency’s mission “to improve the quality of life for individuals and families by providing a high-quality, local source of mental health and family support.”
MCC staff and volunteers work closely with many town departments and community groups, including but not limited to police, fire, public health, schools, housing, local physicians, the Female Humane Society, the Marblehead Mental Health Task Force, Making Ends Meet and the Marblehead Ministerial Association.
MCC derives its funding from health insurance plans, clients’ co-payments, private donations and annual contributions from the Board of Health.
In return for the receipt of town funds, MCC provides free mental health services to individuals who live or work in Marblehead and who are unable to pay for such services.
Social services, another vital component of MCC’s role in the community, are also provided under the MCC contract with the Board of Health.
As we have all endured the COVID pandemic, staff at MCC have addressed its mental health repercussions daily. Suicide rates and drug overdoses have increased. Our children have suffered from feelings of isolation associated with the earlier loss of in-person teaching and interaction with their classmates. Generalized anxiety and feelings of depression have also been exacerbated.
Additionally, social service needs increased during the pandemic. The removal of the eviction moratorium and the impending removal of certain Medicaid benefits have placed further stress on some of our most vulnerable citizens. MCC is working with many of them to find housing or affordable medical care to meet their needs.
We applaud the work of MCC’s dedicated staff and volunteers. We are fortunate to have such a valuable mental health and social service resource in our town. And let’s strive to make mental health awareness something to keep in mind every day of the year.
The Current Editorial Board
The members of the Current’s editorial board are Ed Bell, who serves as chairman, and Virginia Buckingham, both members of the Current’s board of directors; Kris Olson and Will Dowd, members of the Current’s editorial staff; and Robert Peck and Joseph P. Kahn. Peck is an attorney, former chairman of Marblehead’s Finance Committee and a former Select Board member. Kahn is a retired Boston Globe journalist.