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Housing, Health, Hunger & Help: Healthcare

Information on shelters, food, medical and legal assistance for the homeless and housing insecure in the Greater Boston area.

Testing

 

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

All community health centers and hospitals in Boston offer STI testing. To find a clinic in your neighborhood, click on the image above to visit the CDC's Get Tested Website or call the Mayor's Health Line at 617.534.5050 (Toll-Free: 800.847.0710)

Health Insurance

Health Care For All logo (white outline of Massachusetts with blue silhouettes of people)

Questions about navigating the health care system? Health Care For All offers a HelpLine at 1-800-272-4232. This resource is free and available to all who call with questions about health coverage in Massachusetts. 

 

Credit: Boston Public Health Commission

MA Health Navigators are trained and certified staff from the Health Connector and MassHealth. Navigators can assist the public with health insurance applications, the enrollment process, navigating health options, and answer any questions you may have. 

Phone: 617.534.5050

E-mail: mayorshealthline@bphc.org

**Please provide your name, phone number, best day(s) to reach you, best time(s) to reach you.                                                                   ​

MassHealth logo

Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) pays for health care for certain low and medium income people living in Massachusetts. MassHealth offers health-care benefits directly or by paying part or all of your health-insurance premiums. To apply for MassHealth, click here or call MassHealth Customer Service at 1-800-841-2900.

HelpSteps

 

A partnership between the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Children's Hospital, HelpSteps is a free and confidential tool to help patrons locate health and human services throughout Massachusetts based on customized, personal needs and access. Over 11,000 listings and available in over 100 languages. 


 

Related Research Guides

Mayor's Health Line

617.534.5050 / Toll-Free: (800) 847.0710
Staff at the Mayor's Health Line (MHL) help residents of Boston gain access to health and wellness resources and services including, questions about health insurance enrollment and eligibility, finding primary care physicians, locating social services, free clinics, child care services, community health centers, and much more.

MHL is free, confidential, multilingual information and referral service. All residents welcomed regardless of immigration status.

Operating hours are: Monday - Friday, 9 am -​ 5 pm

1010 Mass Ave Boston, MA 02118 2nd Floor

Healthcare in Boston

The following lists outline health resources in and around the city of Boston, Massachusetts. These resources have been compiled by librarians and library staff at the Boston Public Library from community partners and online sources. Links are verified and fact-checked on a semi-annual basis. However, they may change at any time. Please contact the organizations you are interested in directly to verify that they are the right fit for you or your loved one. 

The tabbed box includes more detailed information about resources pertaining to behavioral health, dental services, eye care, family services, HIV care, LGBTQ+ services, medical respite care, pharmacy, primary care, sexual health, and substance use disorder services.

**The City of Boston and the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services offer a wide array of resources pertaining to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. This page outlines some of those services, but for a more complete listing of substance use and recovery services, visit the Boston Public Library's Addiction Recovery Resources Guide.**

 

Local Health Organizations

Health Services

What is behavioral health?

Behavioral health is a discipline that includes mental health services like psychiatric care, marriage and family counseling, and treatment for addictions. Services are provided by mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, neurologists, counselors, and physicians. Disorders treated include anxiety disorder, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders, and substance abuse disorders.[1]

Approximately one in five adults in the United States will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime; virtually everyone is affected by mental illness through family and friends.[2] The resources listed below offer free and low-cost behavioral healthcare in and around Boston.

If you are in crisis, and need immediate support or intervention, call, or go the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room. 


[1] Rhonda Cloos, "Behavioral Health," Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, edited by Gale. Gale, 2013.

[2] Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, “May is Mental Health Month 2017,” Mass.gov, 2017.

Online Resources

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Online Resources

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Find Care in Boston

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Intro to LGBT Health

rainbow flag

"The LGBT community is diverse. While L, G, B, and T are usually tied together as an acronym that suggests homogeneity, each letter represents a wide range of people of different races, ethnicities, ages, socioeconomic statuses and identities. What binds them together as social and gender minorities are common experiences of stigma and discrimination, the struggle of living at the intersection of many cultural backgrounds and trying to be a part of each, and, specifically with respect to health care, a long history of discrimination and lack of awareness of health needs by health professionals. As a result, LGBT people face a common set of challenges in accessing culturally competent health services and achieving the highest possible level of health."  

-from the National LGBT Health Education Center

Online Resources

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What is medical respite care?

Medical respite care refers to short-term medical and recuperative services for homeless people who are too sick for life in shelters or on the streets, but who are not sick enough to occupy a costly hospital bed (Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, 2014).

Find Care in Boston

What is sexual health?

pink, blue, purple speech bubbles overlapping, reading "Sexual health: worth talking about"

The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.

Online Resources

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What is substance use disorder?


BOS:311
What is 311?

 

Substance use disorder, also known as drug addiction, is a dependence on a legal or illegal drug or medication. People suffering from addiction are unable to control their drug use and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law (Mayo Clinic, 2004). If you or a loved one are suffering from substance use disorder, you may find help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups, or an organized treatment program. This page offers resources both online and in the Greater Boston area.

For more information on substance use and recovery services, visit the BPL's Addiction Recovery Resources Guide.

If you are experiencing a potentially life-threatening situation, please call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room. 

Online Resources

Find Care in Shelters