On Public Health
Coming off the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth is facing some of its largest public health issues in a century. Covid-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 Massachusetts residents. Our elderly residents have been uniquely impacted, but new variants have led to a spike in hospitalizations and complications among young people.
It is critical that we make accurate information about vaccines, potential boosters, and new variants available to everyone, with extra care given to overcome language barriers and Internet accessibility issues. Mobile vaccination clinics, late-night and early-morning vaccination hours, and community outreach are all critical means of providing equal vaccine access to everyone in the Commonwealth. The more people are vaccinated, the safer we all are. Additional state funds must be deployed for this purpose immediately.
Mental health issues, substance use, and self-reported loneliness have all spiked during the pandemic. More than 41% of American adults have reported an increase in anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic. One-in three Covid-19 survivors has been diagnosed with a brain or mental health disorder within 6 months of diagnosis. These numbers are staggering. They speak to the immense health challenges the virus presents and the unprecedented ways in which the pandemic has disrupted our everyday lives.
Everyone in Massachusetts who would like to speak to a licensed mental health counselor should be able to do so. We need to make state funds available for more mental health resources in schools, veterans’ groups, community centers, and other high-impact organizations. Comprehensive mental health education and resilience training should be part of the Commonwealth’s curriculum framework, and the state government should partner with our amazing research universities to encourage more students to enter the mental healthcare profession. Additionally, we must make broadband Internet affordable and reliable for all so that people can access digital therapy and substance use disorder treatment appointments. Further, virtual connections—while no replacement for in-person interactions—can begin to chip away at social isolation.
I am pro-choice and firmly believe in a woman’s right to choose what is best for her body. I believe in equitable access to reproductive health services; age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education; and free contraception and protection for students.