By Mark Powell
The Place Where Stigma Stops
Little things can make a big difference. Take the small sign that carries a huge message. It’s the first thing you notice walking up to any of Column Health’s five outpatient mental health clinics in the Boston area. “Stigma Stops Here.” In its subtle way, it tells visitors not to expect the traditional clinical experience.
That’s by design. Colin Beatty started Column Health after experiencing what many loved ones go through when seeking treatment for themselves or a family member: a lack of community-based, caring, outcome-focused addiction treatment available when and where it’s needed most–where people live and work. Using the slogan “Addiction treatment that doesn’t suck,” Column Health is an outpatient treatment clinic providing individualized care to those suffering with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.
The atmosphere feels like a high-end concierge physician’s office. Clinics are warm and comfortable with well-appointed fixtures and beautiful artwork. Visitors are welcomed with a bottle of cold water, whose labels bring smiles with humorous facts and inspirational quotes. Column Health understands stigma is a barrier on many levels; by reducing it, they can engage more people in seeking treatment and encourage those in treatment to continue.
“If you wouldn’t bring a member of your own family here, you’re simply not doing it right,” Beatty says. Column Health addresses financial barriers by partnering with insurance companies to make sure patients receive the services they need. People aren’t turned away because they can’t pay, which can be the difference between life and death for someone struggling with addiction. Column Health clinics are located near public transportation and on main streets rather than tucked away in dark alleyways.
Other features separating Column Health’s approach from others include same day appointments, help arranging transportation, and offering evening hours to accommodate work schedules.
Beatty believes treatment should fit into patients lives, not the other way around. That outside the box thinking distinguishes Column Health as a Innovation Now member.
Column Heath was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.
J. Mark Powell is an author, former network journalist, and veteran communications expert.