Sentinel & Enterprise
UPDATED: 02/24/2017 04:56:32 PM EST
BOSTON - Sen. Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster and Rep. Kimberly Ferguson of Holden on Friday announced their appointments to serve on the Special Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention.
Created as part of the fiscal 2017 state budget, the commission is charged with investigating evidence-based practices, programs and systems to prevent behavioral health disorders and promote behavioral health across the state.
In addition to developing recommendations for improving behavioral health in Massachusetts through early detection and intervention, the commission will also focus on increasing collaboration at the state and local levels between community coalitions and public health, mental health, health care, education, social services and public safety organizations.
"I want to thank Senate President Rosenberg for having the confidence in me to serve on this special commission," Flanagan, a Democrat, said in a statement. "The importance of prevention is critical when trying to combat violence and promote overall health."
Ferguson a Republican, said she is eager to work with Flanagan on the issue.
"Given my background in special education and speech/language pathology, I am thrilled to serve on this commission and I would like to thank House Minority Leader Bradley Jones for giving me the opportunity to do so," Ferguson, a Republican, said in the statement. "I feel that now more than ever it is critical to focus on behavioral health and I am looking forward to collaborating with Senator Flanagan on this important issue."
The commission will hold a minimum of three public hearings, and is required to issue a report within 24 months of its first meeting. The commission also has the option of making a draft report available for public comment before filing its final version.
Flanagan was co-chair of a similar special legislative panel that focused on the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, work that led to legislation focused on prevention and treatment of opioid addiction.