Riggs Reaches Out to Local Clinical Community



Community Health Needs AssessmentIn 2013 the Austen Riggs Center conducted a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in order to identify and evaluate the key mental health needs of the national, regional and local communities we serve.

One highlighted concern was to enhance access to quality mental health care services for low-income populations in Berkshire County. To that end, Riggs has begun conversations with the staff at the Brien Center, which serves a low-income population, to identify opportunities for Riggs staff to provide education and training to Brien Center clinicians.

Recently, staff psychiatrist, Elizabeth Weinberg, M.D., presented: DSM-5: What’s New and What’s Important, at both the Pittsfield and Great Barrington Brien Center locations. Open to Brien Center clinicians, this comprehensive overview of the changes DSM-5 is bringing to the practice of psychology and psychiatry elicited many thoughtful questions and an enthusiastic response. At the conclusion of each presentation, several Brien Center clinicians commented that this was either their first or most thorough introduction to DSM-5; one Brien Center clinician commented “This was the first time I’ve been able to wrap my mind around it.” Paul Hickling, Division Director of Adult and Family Services, stated “We very much appreciated the training for our clinicians.”

As the Austen Riggs Center moves forward this year and in the coming years with a strategy to address the needs found in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), the organization will continue reaching out to the communities, building new relationships and nurturing the ones already established.

About the Brien Center

The Brien Center is the primary community mental health center (CMHC) located in Berkshire. During the early years of operations in the 1920s, the Brien Center began as an outpatient department of the Austen Riggs Foundation.

The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is a community-based, non-profit agency with over 90 years of experience providing a continuum of behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and families who suffer from serious and persistent behavioral health disorders. The Brien Center operates 27 sites throughout Berkshire County, including outpatient clinics in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington.  All services are responsive to preferences and needs of the persons served and provide counseling, outreach, prevention and residential services focusing on rehabilitation, resiliency and recovery. The Brien Center serves nearly 10,000 Berkshire County residents annually, including over 4,000 children. One in every four Berkshire families received treatment, prevention programming or residential care in one of their programs during 2013.

The Brien Center maintains a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health under which services are provided. You can contact the Brien Center at [413] 499.0412 or info@briencenter.org. Their 24 Hour Crisis Hotline is: [800] 252.0227.