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


Of Massachusetts youth ages 0-17 experienced at least one form of trauma, abuse, or significant stress in the prior year, with more than 15% experiencing multiple traumas.


Of Massachusetts high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless for more than 2 weeks.


Of self-identified LGBTQ Massachusetts high school students seriously considered suicide in the past year.

Criminal Justice Reform


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.


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.


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


Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. On average, 5% of white students are suspended, compared to 16% of black students.

School success is strongly correlated with positive mental health outcomes.


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. 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.


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.


Of Black or Latinx individuals with any mental health condition reported using mental health services, compared to 48% of white individuals with mental health conditions.

Lack of access to affordable and competent treatment can lead to more chronic mental health conditions.


Of psychologists are people of color, despite representing 37% of the population in 2016.

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



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


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


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


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.


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.


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.