Medfield Schools Credit INTERFACE Services with Improved Mental Health

July 03, 2019

Medfield Public Schools is crediting the use of the William James INTERFACE Referral Service with an improvement “to the mental health and wellness of students throughout the district and beyond.” According to a recent press release, Medfield Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden said, “The INTERFACE program has made a great impact on the overall social-emotional wellness at our schools.”

The William James INTERFACE Referral Service hosts a mental health and wellness referral Helpline for communities, including Medfield, that subscribe to the service Each year it provides approximately 4,000 matched referrals to subscribing communities and filters over 16,000 phone inquiries.

“Easing the burdens associated with accessing mental health care is a key component of the William James College mission. The impact Medfield Schools is seeing is exactly the type of impact we hope to have in the communities we serve though INTERFACE. At William James College we have the opportunity to not only serve communities through our services but also to educate the future behavioral health workforce who are making a difference across the country and throughout the world,” said Margaret Hannah, executive director of The Richard and Joan L. Freedman Center for Child and Family Development at William James College and founder of the INTERFACE Referral Service.

The goal of the INTERFACE service is to help break down silos that exist between agencies, mental health providers, and systems that can often hinder access to mental health and wellness services for individuals. 

In a recent article in the Boston Globe (“How to find a therapist when you need one”), a Newton parent recounted her experience seeking care for her child, first on her own then with the help of the service. “Eventually, I wasn’t even looking for people with the right skill set. I was looking for anyone and hearing, ‘We have a one-year waiting list.’ I must have called at least 20 different practices,” the parent told the Globe. She also said she spent months on the effort. After contacting INTERFACE, she received four referrals within 48 hours.

In Medfield, “INTERFACE has helped ease the burden of families during what can be incredibly stressful times,” said Medfield School Committee Chair Anna Mae O’Shea Brooke, who also serves on the Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention. “It can sometimes take countless phone calls and hours on hold trying to find the right therapist that is covered by your insurance and works within your schedule. INTERFACE helps immensely to ease those burdens and streamline the process. We are so very fortunate in Medfield to have this service available to those who need it.”

Sara Drumm, the parent representative for the Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention, said she believes that access to the referral helpline has helped introduce people to the wide variety of local resources that are available to people struggling with mental health issues.

“Since we have introduced this program in our town, we have worked to spread the word and let our community know that INTERFACE and other resources exist to support and promote mental health and wellness,” Drumm said. “Our discussions and updates have gone a long way towards reducing the stigma around this topic. What we have seen since this program has been available is that it is being heavily utilized by people of all ages, including our youth.”

Drumm added, “I believe this is important to our school community as we know that many of our kids struggle to balance their many commitments during their school years and beyond, and this is understandably a difficult balance that can lead to anxiety and other health issues for many.”

Chelsea Goldstein-Walsh, interim director of Medfield Youth Outreach and a member of the Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention, said the value of the program is immense when considering that it is open to every student and resident in Medfield who is seeking assistance with issues of mental health.

“The INTERFACE program reduces barriers to access for mental health treatment, which supports the overall mental health and emotional wellness of the entire Medfield community,” Goldstein-Walsh said.