Harvard Street re-opens mental health facility on Blue Hill Avenue

A long-dormant building on Blue Hill Avenue has reopened as offices for five mental health clinicians to provide treatment for adults and children from city neighborhoods served by Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center. At a ribbon-cutting Monday at 895 Blue Hill Avenue, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center President and Chief Executive Officer Charley Murphy said the clinicians will help to complete the medical and dental services currently provided to about 8,000 patients a year by the center.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the critical expansion of mental health services funded by a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Murphy said. The $250,000 grant from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is paying the salaries for the equivalent of two full-time clinicians, led by Judy Solman, currently the chief psychologist at the Home for Little Wanderers.

“This will mean complete wraparound service,” said Solman. “And we’ll be providing psychological testing and advocacy for kids to get the services they need from Boston Public Schools and surrounding schools.” State Rep. Russell Holmes said, “It’s good to see this building occupied. I welcome this expansion of services in the heart of my district, which is also the heart of the challenges,” noting its proximity to high-crime areas. Holmes said he will work to develop a partnership between the mental health providers and police, noting that law enforcement and prosecution resources cannot fully address the needs of crime victims. Staff Psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Riley has been providing mental health services at Harvard Street for 17 years but has not had help since services were cut back in the last decade.

Solman, who speaks Creole, said that graduate student interns from area universities will augment the language and cultural diversity of the staff, including two hired for the fall who are Haitian.

Susan Trotz, a guidance counselor at the Curley School in Jamaica Plain, said she has worked with Solman in her current job and previously when Trotz worked in Mattapan.

“Judy brings invaluable knowledge about how to help kids and how to collaborate with schools in meeting students’ complex needs.” Harvard Street staff nurse Maxine James attended the ribbon-cutting on her lunch hour. “This means so much. I’ve been in nursing for eons; more and more it’s become clear that mental health is so critical to helping everyone who walks in that door.”