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House approves sweeping mental health legislation

Proud to join my House colleagues in passing a sweeping, bipartisan mental health bill this week to make some major steps forward in the way we address behavioral health care in the Commonwealth.

The bill also includes an amendment I filed along with Rep. Kathy LaNatra to help bring more qualified licensed clinicians (LMHCs) into the behavioral health workforce in a timely manner.

Currently the Allied Board of Mental Health has just two LMHC slots on its 13-member board. Yet almost two-thirds of all license holders in the Commonwealth are LMHCs. This causes significant workflow issues and delays the processing of new applicants and renewals. The need for mental health services is at an all-time high so this is not a time we can afford bottlenecks.

Our amendment solves this issue by adding two seats to the Board and adjusting the composition so that it proportionally reflects the actual number of active license holders. The amendment also instructs the Department of Public Health to review the feasibility of establishing a separate licensure board for LMHCs and report back to the Legislature by next year with their findings.

Many thanks to Hanson resident Joe Weeks and Midge Williams, the executive director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, for raising this issue and working with us on it.

I am also very grateful to Chairman Adrian Madaro, both for all his great work on the broader mental health bill, but also for assistance and support with on this particular amendment.

This is an important piece of legislation and we look forward to working with our Senate colleague to get it to the finish line.



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