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Roger D. Weiss, MD, chief of McLean Hospital’s Substance Use Disorders Division; Adriana Bobinchock, senior director of Public Affairs and Communications at McLean; and Christine Tebaldi, PMHNP-BC, director of Clinical Business Development at McLean, joined Maine Senator Angus King this past July for a discussion about the opiate crisis, access to mental health care, and the stigma that too often accompanies psychiatric disorders.
“Maine people struggling with addiction are not criminals—they are our friends and neighbors, many of whom have worked hard to address their substance use disorder,” said Senator King. “If we’re going to truly end the opioid epidemic that has devastated our state, we need to pursue a multi-pronged approach that includes not only strengthening law enforcement efforts targeting those smuggling and dealing drugs, but also increasing support for individuals who want to seek treatment and reducing the stigma around those in recovery.”
The roundtable discussion, which has been viewed more than 4,000 times on Facebook, was held at the historic Camden Opera House and included representatives from Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor and employers who actively hire individuals in recovery. Immediately following the event, Senator King visited Borden Cottage, one of McLean’s Signature Addiction Recovery Programs, where he met with staff and learned about how McLean is supporting the local community.
“Senator King was very complimentary of the work McLean is doing to reduce mental health stigma regionally and nationally and recognized the extraordinary research and clinical work that McLean is engaged in to address substance use disorder nationwide, but particularly in Massachusetts and Maine,” said Philip G. Levendusky, PhD, ABPP, senior vice president of Business Development and Communications for McLean.
Levendusky, who served as the senator’s tour guide during his trip to Borden Cottage said King was interested in understanding what more he could do in his position to help people living with substance use disorders.
“It was an enlightening conversation for everyone involved, and I think McLean—and in particular the staff at Borden Cottage—are eager to work with Senator King as he looks at innovative ways to address mental health stigma and the addiction issues that Mainers face daily,” added Levendusky.
Because of Senator King’s interest in addressing mental health stigma, McLean has been asked to develop an anti-stigma campaign in the state’s two largest prisons. Work on that project is expected to kick off this fall.