Published August 13, 2019

WAKEFIELD — Mental Health Clinician Jennifer Waczkowski was recently recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) for her tremendous work in the community of Wakefield and was awarded the “Clinical Collaboration with Law Enforcement Award” at this year’s Mental Health and Law Enforcement Conference.

This is a prestigious award that is given to just one civilian annually for the entire state. Ms. Waczkowski is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been serving as the Clinical Coordinator of Jail Diversion for the Town of Wakefield since 2012. She holds a bachelor of science degree in Psychology from Drexel University and a master of science degree in both Mental Health Counseling and Criminal Justice from Suffolk University.

AT THE AWARD presentation (from left) Chief Steven Skory, Jennifer Waczkowski, Jon Barber (DMH) and Deputy Chief Craig Calabrese. (Courtesy Photo)

The concept of police and mental health professionals working together was not commonplace when she first began in 2012, but today public support has increased and more departments are employing clinicians. Ms. Waczkowski was one of the early pioneers in this area and has established herself as an expert in the field. She is now well known to mental health professionals on both the local and statewide level. She has assisted hundreds of individuals in Wakefield that have or continue to struggle with mental illness, situational stressors, substance use, and co-occurring disorders. Her work is contracted through a partnership with Eliot Community Human Services via DMH grant funding.

Jennifer’s passion for understanding and assisting clients is evident in every interaction she makes. She not only builds a rapport with the individuals themselves, but with the people in their inner circle, including family, friends, community treatment providers, and other important figures. This comprehensive and multifaceted approach allows her to develop individualized plans with multiple layers of support to assist the individual in need. Additionally, many family members are often in need of support and guidance, and she always makes herself available to them.

There are many days where clients are in the lobby of the Public Safety Building just waiting for her to arrive. Some may not even be experiencing a crisis but come to check-in as they know she will listen patiently to their thoughts, communicate back in a supportive manner, and advocate for them when prudent.

Wakefield Police Chief Skory noted, “Ms. Waczkowski has established herself as an irreplaceable member of our team. The level of intervention and follow-up services that she provides daily is remarkable, and something that cannot always be quantified easily with numbers or statistics. We greatly appreciate everything that she does for those in need, not only during some of their darkest hours but in many cases continuing through their brighter days. It was with great pride to see this award granted by the Department of Mental Health for her tremendous effort, diligence, and overall impact.”