Our policy priorities include improving children's mental health, reforming the criminal justice system, addressing the impact of racism on mental health, expanding access to housing and services, and promoting trauma-informed policy.

We share some of the most striking data on these issues that have helped to shape our perspectives.

Children's Mental Health

36%

Around 36% of Massachusetts youth ages 0 to 17 experienced at least one form of trauma, abuse, or significant stress in the prior year, with almost 14% experiencing multiple traumas.

48%

In 2020, almost half (48%) of youth ages 14 to 24 years old reported feeling so sad or hopeless for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some of their usual activities.

Rates were higher among youth identifying as trans (78%) or non-binary (83%), and youth with a mobility disability (81%) or cognitive disability (78%).

31%

In 2017, around 31% of self-identified LGBTQ MA high school students seriously considered suicide in the past year compared to 10% of heterosexual, cisgender students.

Criminal Justice Reform

42%

Of inmates and detainees have a mental health condition as estimated by Massachusetts Sheriffs, which run pre-trial detention facilities and prisons housing those sentenced to 2.5 years or less.

Jails/prisons have higher rates of mental illness/substance use disorder than the general population.

28%

Of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health clients were arrested at some point in a 10-year period, primarily for non-violent charges.

There are higher rates of justice involvement among those with mental illness/substance use disorder than the general population.

54%

Of homeless individuals report having spent time in a correctional institution.

Homelessness is an often unaddressed but highly related issue; prevalence of homelessness is high among justice-involved and those with mental illness/substance use disorder and vice-versa.

Impact of Racism

3X and 2.5X

During the 2018 – 2019 school year, Black female students and Latino female students in Massachusetts elementary and secondary schools were about 3x and 2.5x more likely to be disciplined than their white counterparts, respectively.

5.5% of Black female students and 4.5% experienced some form of discipline (e.g. in-school or out-of-school suspension, expulsion, referral to law enforcement or school-related arrest) compared to 1.7% of white female students.

71%

In 2018 - 2019, 71% of Black individuals in a Suffolk University study were discriminated against in the metro Boston rental market. Housing providers showed Black testers half as many apartments as they showed to white testers, told white testers that more units were available, offered more incentives to rent, and made more positive comments about the units to white testers.

Access to safe, quality, and affordable housing is one of the most basic and powerful social determinants of health.

1 in 3

Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared to 1 in 6 Latinx boys and 1 in 17 white boys nationally. As of October 2016, there have been 1,900 exonerations of the wrongfully accused; 47% of the exonerated were African American.

Incarceration exacerbates existing mental health challenges. Children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system are more likely to suffer from psychological strain, antisocial behavior, suspension or expulsion from school, economic hardship, and are 6 times more likely to be involved in criminal activity.

4x

More likely for an African American to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than other races and ethnicities presenting with the SAME patient need characteristics and illness severity. Hispanic individuals are 3 times as likely to be diagnosed than other races and ethnicities.

Racial and ethnic bias in diagnosis of mental health conditions is pervasive and perpetuates disparities.

35% and 37%

In 2020, around 35% of Latinx individuals and 37% of Black individuals with any mental health condition reported receiving mental health services in the past year, compared to around 52% of white individuals with mental health conditions.

While people of color experience mental health conditions at similar rates compared to white individuals, they were less likely to receive services. Lack of access to affordable and competent treatment can lead to more chronic mental health conditions.

16%

In 2018, nationally 16% of psychologists were people of color, despite representing 40% of the population.

Cultural sensitivity in treatment is critical to healing. Shared culture and race has proven a stronger therapeutic connection and increases treatment retention.

Housing

$28.80

Hourly wage needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR) in Massachusetts

167%

The amount of monthly income an individual with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income would have to spend to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts

20,068

People experiencing homelessness on a given night in Massachusetts

Behavioral Health Parity

5.2 times

More likely for behavioral inpatient facilities to be utilized out-of network relative to medical/surgical inpatient facilities

10.1 times

More likely for substance use inpatient facilities to be utilized out-of-network relative to medical/surgical inpatient facilities

10.1 times

More likely for a childs behavioral health office visit to be an out-of-network provider relative to primary care office visits

Trauma-Informed Policy

12.5%

Of the US population has four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are stressful or traumatic events outside of the child’s control whose negative effects can be long lasting and severe.

The public health impact of childhood adversity is evident in the very strong association between childhood adversity and depressive symptoms, antisocial behavior, and drug use during the early transition to adulthood.

3x

Those with 4+ ACEs had twice the likelihood of reporting ever heavy drinking and three times the likelihood of reporting alcohol problems in adulthood.

Research has demonstrated a strong relationship between ACEs, substance use conditions and mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

1

Stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult is the single most common characteristic among children with resilience.

Resilience is the ability to overcome serious hardship.