Mental health workers expressed serious concerns Tuesday for Governor Ned
Lamont’s intent to close a 10-bed residence providing transitional living services in Hartford for
young adults who are 18 to 25 years old.
According to a letter from Governor Lamont’s administration, the Young Adult Services
Program at 556 Blue Hills Avenue (the Hilltop Residential Program) will be shut down
permanently by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) on Nov. 19.
“The closure of this mental health and addiction treatment facility means the state is shutting
down 10 of the 31 beds currently available in Hartford for the Young Adult Services Program.
We should be expanding these services in cities like Hartford and Bridgeport and New Haven,
not cutting them,” said Rob Baril, president of District 1199 New England, SEIU. “This is not
how you build wellness and wealth in Black, Latino and white working communities. At a time
when demand for services is growing, the state has decided to cut a program that works for the
betterment of youth in Hartford.”
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There are five young adults residing at the Hilltop Residential Program presently. With 13 staff
members to run Hilltop’s 24/7 operation, DMHAS administrators stopped filling the 10 beds
since July, seemingly in anticipation of Hilltop’s permanent closure that was notified to frontline
workers in October.
“Now more than ever, it is so vital that we fully fund mental health and addiction services in our
community,” said Mayor Luke Bronin. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, four times as
many adults are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it is disproportionately
affecting young adults. Occupancy rates of treatment facilities have skyrocketed. We’ve also
seen that 13% of Americans started or increased use of substances, and overdoses were up 18%
in the onset of the pandemic. Many people lack direct access, support or the money needed to
pay for help themselves, so when our residents need resources to treat addiction or mental
illnesses, we need to be there to support them. I’m proud to stand with the members of 1199 as
we call for an end to mental health and addiction services cuts.”
“Hilltop has been a safe haven for youth. We cannot let the same thing that happened with
Cedarcrest happen to Hilltop clients. Closing the unit is dangerous for the five clients in
DMHAS’ care, and it closes access to services for future youths that need lifesaving care,” said
Avis Ward, mental health associate at Hilltop for the past 10 years.
“I was a patient in the YAS program. Because of the program, I was able to get to a better place
and now I work for DMHAS helping other people who are in the same situation I was,” said
Edina Brownlow, a Mental Health Assistant, Peer Support worker at Capitol Region Mental
Health Center who benefited from the YAS program from 2000 to 2004. “At YAS, I was able to
get better, and because of the support I received at YAS, I started doing really well – and I turned
Audio of press conference available here:
Contact: Pedro Zayas, email@example.com, 860-830-2478
District 1199, SEIU, New England Health Care Employees Union