Media Advisory/Press Release
Ceremony at State House honors community mental health pioneer Dr. Stephen D. Hayes on May 5
April 29, 2009–Boston, MA —Senator Richard T. Moore, Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, will join other state officials, mental health leaders, and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) to honor community mental health pioneer Dr. Stephen D. Hayes on May 5. A special ceremony at the State House will recognize this founding director of the mental health service at Lynn Community Health Center, who, for 40 years, has devoted himself and his career to the poor and underserved.
The event will also inaugurate the Dr. Stephen D. Hayes Community Mental Health Project at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. The project is designed to encourage graduates of MSPP to apply to the federal student loan forgiveness program in exchange for service in community mental health settings.
What: Luncheon to Honor Dr. Stephen Hayes, founder of Lynn Community Health Center’s mental health service
Who: Dr. Stephen Hayes, Senator Richard Moore, other state officials, MSPP leaders
When: Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Nurses Hall, State House, Boston
Hayes founded the mental health service in Lynn in 1971 at the beginning of the community mental health movement in the United States. He opened what was a storefront service at a time when most mental health emergency patients were seen at hospitals like Massachusetts General Hospital or confined in state mental health hospitals. As the decade began, community mental health promised to make services accessible and affordable to those with the most need but fewest financial resources.
Today, what began as a tiny fledgling experiment is a thriving comprehensive program that has 170,000 patient visits a year and has 30,000 distinct patients, who, in addition to English, speak 25 languages. And, over the years, Hayes and his colleagues have trained generations of psychologists, physicians and other health care workers to serve the needs of underserved people. More than 20 MSPP students have trained and been supervised by Hayes at the Lynn Community Health Center over the years.
“By honoring this dedicated healer, we hope to raise awareness of the current and rapidly growing need for psychologists and other mental health providers to choose, as Steve did, to use their talents to care for the mental health of the neediest among us,” says Dr. Nicholas Covino, president of MSPP. Hayes received his doctorate in clinical psychology from MSPP in 1981.
According to Senator Moore, a long-time friend and admirer of Hayes, who will be a keynote speaker at the event, “Steve Hayes exemplifies just the kind of person that the community needs to address the mental health challenges of these times. He has the compassion, understanding, humor and total commitment required to deal with the trauma, substance abuse and other issues facing families, adults, teens and children in our communities today. Steve is someone who knows how to work on the real problems of everyday people who can't afford private counseling,” he adds.
The shortage of qualified community mental health providers is reaching critical proportions in Massachusetts. Currently only 3,132 mental health providers exist for a population of 80 million in federally designated areas known as HPSAs (health professional shortage areas). To even begin to address the need, 5,352 practitioners are needed, which would make a provider ratio of one to 10,000 people.
To help address the shortage, the Department of Public Health has worked closely with MSPP to guide graduates to work in public sector settings and apply for loan forgiveness through the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Designations and Medically Underserved Area (MUA)/Population (MUP) Designations.
These federal programs, designed to supply underserved areas nationwide with needed health professionals, represent a unique way of distributing funds to communities that would otherwise struggle to afford vital health care services (primary, dental, mental). Both health professionals and organizations in HPSA or MUA/P areas benefit from many federal entitlements such as loan repayment, as well as from more diverse, challenging, and highly rewarding work environments.
The relationship for health professionals and organizations in HPSA or MUA/P areas is mutually beneficial. Professionals could receive loan repayment while working in a diverse, challenging and rewarding work environment and organizations would benefit from the dedication and passion of these committed individuals.
In addition, research has shown that professionals practicing in these designated areas out of ‘obligation’ (scholarship, loan repayment) remain longer, even after the end of the obligation, many times outlasting their ‘non-obligated’ colleagues.
The Dr. Stephen Hayes Community Mental Health Project will focus on helping MSPP students to apply for loan forgiveness and find placements working in community settings approved by the state. In addition to recognizing Dr. Hayes, the event will acknowledge other MSPP alumni who have dedicated at least five years of their careers to community mental health services.
The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology strives to be a preeminent school of psychology that integrates rigorous academic instruction with extensive field education and close attention to professional development. We assume an ongoing social responsibility to create programs to educate specialists of many disciplines to meet the evolving mental health needs of society.