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


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.


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%).


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

Criminal Justice Reform


Nationally, around 650,000 individuals return to their communities from prison each year.

Individuals who are released from prison are often blocked from gaining access to employment, housing, and educational opportunities which would help them build stability and find success after incarceration. Because of this, half of the individuals released will return to prison within a few years of release.


In 2020, 47% of surveyed participants reported experiencing at least one traumatic event in the first eight months after being released from incarceration. 32% reported experiencing three or more traumatic events.

Traumatic events include experiencing a death of a loved one, assault, or a serious health incident. Trauma may negatively impact an individual’s mental health and make re-entry more difficult.


Nationally, around 50,000 people a year enter homeless shelters directly after being released from a correctional facility.

Impact of Racism

3x and 2.5x

During the 2018 – 2019 school year, Black female students and Latina 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.


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

One in three Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared to 1 in 6 Latino 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 6x more likely to be involved in criminal activity.


African Americans are 4x more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than other races and ethnicities presenting with the SAME patient need characteristics and illness severity. Hispanic individuals are 3x 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.


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 have a proven a stronger therapeutic connection and increase treatment retention.



In 2022, $30.92 is the 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 in 2022.


In January 2022, 17,915 people experienced homelessness on a given night in Massachusetts.

Behavioral Health Parity


In 2017, nationally, behavioral inpatient facilities were utilized out-of-network 5.2x more relative to medical/surgical inpatient facilities.


In 2017, nationally, substance use inpatient facilities were utilized out-of-network 10.1x more relative to medical/surgical inpatient facilities.


In 2017, nationally, a child's behavioral health office was 10.1x more likely to be with an out-of-network provider relative to primary care office visits.

Trauma-Informed Policy


Nearly 16% of adults in the US from 2015 - 2017 have experienced four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are stressful or traumatic events outside of a child’s control whose negative effects can be long lasting and severe.

Additionally, women and people of color were more likely to experience four or more types of ACEs compared to men and white people. 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.

2x and 3x

Those with 4+ ACEs had 2x the likelihood of reporting ever heavy drinking and 3x 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.


In 2015, adults who reported having six or more positive childhood experiences had a 72% lower chance of reporting depression or poor mental health days compared to adults who reporting have zero to two positive childhood experiences.

Positive childhood experiences include being able to talk to a family member about feelings, feeling that family stood by in hard times, participating in community traditions, feeling a sense of belonging in high school, feeling supported by friends, having other non-parental adults express genuine interest, and feeling safe and protected by an adult at home. Additionally, the positive childhood experiences were associated with decreased chances of depression and poor mental health held even if the adult also experienced ACEs.