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Know who your ESP is

Whenever you think you might need mental health assistance for yourself or a family member, it is always good to learn which local organization functions as the Emergency Services Program for your town and to keep their information easily accessible.

Emergency Services Programs, or ESPs, are the organizations charged with providing crisis care in a designated area of the state. In southeastern Massachusetts, for example, there are four ESPs operating: Community Counseling of Bristol County in Brockton, Baycove/Cape Cod and the Islands Emergency Services on the Cape, Boston Medical Center (BMC)/Fall River Emergency Services in Fall River, and Child & Family Services in New Bedford.

These organizations are available at all times -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year -- providing assessment, intervention, and stabilization services to anyone experiencing a crisis. They are the people to call when you need mental health assistance even before a situation develops into a crisis and can help provide treatment and make referrals to the appropriate professionals and care providers. (In an emergency, always dial 911 first.)

In a crisis, they will respond quickly to assess and treat individuals with the goal of stabilizing the situation. ESPs exist "to respond rapidly, assess effectively, and deliver a course of treatment intended to promote recovery, ensure safety, and stabilize the crisis in a manner that allows an individual to receive medically necessary services in the community, or if medically necessary, in an inpatient or 24-hour diversionary level of care," according to a manual put out by the Bridgewater office of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership.

If you're not sure which ESP your town falls under, you can call 1-877-382-1609 and enter your zip code to receive a message identifying your ESP in English and in Spanish.

There are other ways to find mental health help, including talking to your doctor during regular visits, or using state resources like the 'How To Get Mental Health Help' page at But ESPs are your local team, able to respond quickly with local information, resources and relationships. They are a good place to start.

Here is the ESP information for the greater New Bedford area including Acushnet, Carver, Dartmouth, Duxbury, Fairhaven, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Marion, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, and Wareham:

Child & Family Services

543 North Street

New Bedford, MA 02740

(508) 984-5566

Child & Family Services

543 North Street

New Bedford, MA 02740

(508) 996-3154

And, for the Fall River area including Freetown, Somerset, Swansea,

and Westport:

49 Hillside Street

Fall River, MA 02720

(508) 985-6630

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