The state will lay off more than 300 mental health workers over the next several days, with about 300 more opting to accept voluntary retirements and layoffs as the Department of Mental Health moves forward with its closing of Westborough State Hospital.

Grappling with a budget crisis that forced lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick to agree on $484 million in budget cuts last month, with additional reductions possible by early next year, the state has begun scaling back human services, including soldiers’ homes and physical therapy for children.

DMH Commissioner Barbara Leadholm told staff of the layoffs on Monday afternoon, calling the cuts “the necessary result of an unprecedented economic downturn that has had great impact on government services.”


“This just seems like an ... incredible number of cuts from one particular agency,” said Rep. Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain), House chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.