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CT Closing Mental Health, Addiction Facility for Young Adults

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021   

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut plans to close a transitional living facility in Hartford next month for people ages 18 to 25, which means fewer resources available for mental-health and addiction treatment for young adults.

The 10-bed Hilltop Residential Program was run through the Young Adult Services Division of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, or DMHAS. Hilltop's closure means the state is losing 10 of the 31 beds in the region for young adults in crisis.

Rob Baril, president of the union SEIU-1199 New England, called it "shocking" that the state would eliminate the program during a pandemic.

"The relationship between patients in mental-health treatment programs and their clinician is one that really only advances when there's a relationship of trust that is built," he said. "If this were not a community that is an overwhelmingly Black and Brown community, would these services be eliminated?"

There currently are five people residing at Hilltop. A DMHAS spokesperson said they'll be moved to similar facilities in Hartford, and that DMHAS is working to establish 10 new residential placements so the reduction in services isn't permanent.

Avis Ward, a case manager at Hilltop for 11 years, said it's upsetting to see the program close because of the specialized, 24-hour care it provides. Ward said she thinks it's critical that the state reopen a facility nearby, in Hartford's North End, so people know where to turn for help.

"Most of our clients already have a history of being traumatized. This only forces them to feel that they are being abruptly displaced from where they feel the most safe," she said. "To be suddenly told that they will be moved to another, unknown situation only triggers fear, anxiety and flashbacks."

Statewide, DMHAS serves about 1,500 people a year through its Young Adult Services program. The agency has said Hilltop's 13 staff members will transition to other open positions through DMHAS.


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