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CMHC on Beacon Hill

The Children's Mental Health Campaign had an active fall testifying in support of our priority bills at the State House. Read below to learn more.

An Act Establishing a Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Implementation Coordinating Council

Members of the Children's Mental Health Campaign after a robust conversation during the legislative hearing.

On Monday, Nov. 6th, the Children's Mental Health Campaign testified in support of An Act establishing a child and adolescent behavioral health implementation coordinating council (H.1979) before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery. Filed by Representative Marjorie Decker, H.1979 addresses root causes of inequitable access to Comprehensive School Behavioral Health (CSBH) by establishing systems and protocols for ensuring the behavioral health needs of all students, their families, and school staff are supported. This bill has two key elements:

  1. Establishment of a school based behavioral health implementation coordinating council. Chaired by the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Behavioral Health for Integrated Resources for Children Project at UMass, the council is responsible for developing a 3-year plan for the statewide implementation of CSBH. This State-level planning effort must include guidance and support to districts, as well as clear goals and benchmarks for monitoring and evaluating key elements of CSBH implementation.
  2. Implementation of CSBH in each school district within three years. The bill requires each school district to implement a CSBH system using a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) framework within three years. MTSS is an evidence-based, systemic practice that supports a rapid response to students’ needs.

One of the most promising methods of bridging the gap in behavioral health services for children and adolescents is to meet them where they’re at by providing services and supports within schools.

"Since all children need to attend schools, schools are the ideal place to ensure all children have equitable access to behavioral health supports," said Nancy Allen Scannell, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. "There has never been a more urgent time than now to make a deep investment in the well-being of children, and this bill provides the structure for doing so.”

The youth behavioral health crisis threatens the immediate and long-term well-being of students, families, and school communities. Today, significant disparities in access, quality, and delivery of school-based behavioral health services exist throughout the state. Schools lack the guidance and resources necessary to address the behavioral health challenges facing their school communities.

"The pandemic has exacerbated existing conditions and created new stressors not only for our children but parents, families, and teachers as well," said Pam Sager, Executive Director of the Parent/Professional Advocacy League. "This bill will not only help our children, but provide support our families deserve.”

There is clear evidence that CSBH models can reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations, special education referrals, school disciplinary actions, and can increase school attendance rates.

"When services are not in place and easy to access, it can create a costly problem. Delays in access to support can exacerbate existing needs, increase family stress, and lead to the need for more costly intervention," said Marisol Garcia, Executive Director of Health Law Advocates. "We are in a mental health crisis, and to not act now puts a whole generation of children at risk.”

Learn more about this bill here.

An Act Relative to Mental Health Education

In October, the Children's Mental Health Campaign testified in strong support of one of the Campaign's priority bills, An Act relative to the promotion of mental health education (H.497/S.240). The purpose of this legislation is to provide students with information to understand their own mental health, skills to build and strengthen their own resilience, and resources to provide them additional support when they need it. Youth advocates Carson Domey and Caroline Hanson (pictured below) also testified in support of this important legislation.

"The time for this legislation is truly now," said Carson Domey. "This bill has the opportunity to change the way that we talk about mental health... for the generations to come, paving a healthier and brighter future for millions."

"This legislation will incorporate mental health education into the physical education curriculum, creating a partnership with our educators to equip youth with the essential skills to assist in managing their own well-being while simultaneously fostering a culture of support within schools," added Domey.

"Mental health education at all grade levels is necessary, as the number of young people suffering from and affected by mental health issues continues to rise. These bills have the ability to change the lives of the students of Massachusetts for the better," said Hanson.

Learn more about this bill here.

EOHHS request for information:

EOHHS has released a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information on Mental Health Centers (MHCs), often referred to as Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs). The RFI asks MHCs to respond to questions regarding the following categories:

  • Statewide network capacity and resources to provide high-quality, equitable, proactive, team-based treatment to MassHealth Members with BH conditions in their communities;
  • Value-based and/or “bundled” payment structures aligned to groups of services, and/or member acuity; and
  • Current clinical volumes and operations, infrastructure, and finances.

EOHHS encourages all interested parties to provide comments for consideration. Respondents are welcome to answer any or all questions in the RFI. You can find the RFI on the COMMBUYS website located here. Responses are due by January 31.

Please share this RFI with your networks as EOHHS is hoping to receive robust responses in order to inform future policy development.

All responses to this RFI are due no later than 01–31– 2024 by 5pm. Eastern Time and must be submitted by e-mail to with the email subject line “MHC RFI Response” in the subject line. Please refer to the RFI document for further instruction.

School-Based Behavioral Health Summit

In early December, CMHC and the BIRCh Project hosted our first ever School-Based Behavioral Health Summit.

The day featured a fireside chat with Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh, who discussed the cross-secretariat efforts that are underway to address the crisis in youth behavioral health in our schools and communities.

We are grateful to have been joined by over 200 school and community behavioral health providers, school administrators, educators, policymakers, and state agency partners to strategize next steps toward ensuring ALL students in the Commonwealth have equitable access to comprehensive school-based behavioral health supports.

For more information about the event, including the powerpoint slides and a copy of our recent report, please click the button below.

Employment Opportunity

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Join us for a series of Lunch & Learns focused on School-Based Behavioral Health!

The Children's Mental Health Campaign welcomes you to join us for a series of virtual Lunch & Learns to learn more about our efforts to advance school-based behavioral health across the Commonwealth, and how you can take action to ensure students have the resources and support they need to thrive.

Each session will focus on 1 of our 3 priority bills that we hope to see reported favorably out of their respective Committees this legislative session.

Click below to register for one or more of these Lunch & Learns:

January 5th at 12:00p: Session 1 of 3

An Act establishing a child and adolescent behavioral health implementation coordinating council (H.1979)

January 12th at 12:00p: Session 2 of 3

An Act relative to the promotion of mental health education (H.497/S.240)

January 19th at 12:00p: Session 3 of 3

An Act relative to MassHealth reimbursement for schools (S.794)


Harvard Cozies Up to #MentalHealth TikTok

As young Americans turn to TikTok for information on mental health, the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard is building its own team of influencers.

How to protect your mental health while keeping tabs on the Israel-Hamas war

"As the situation in Israel and Gaza continues to unfold, many people far from the conflict are nonetheless exposed to countless images, stories and sounds of conflict via television and radio news reports, newspaper and digital stories, and of course social media.

And this is taking a toll on all of us, including our children. The American Psychological Association released a statement this week warning that consuming violent and traumatic news can in and of itself negatively affect our mental health."

Amid a mental health crisis among children, toy industry takes on role of helping build resilience

"As more children emerge from the pandemic grappling with mental health issues, their parents are seeking ways for them to build emotional resilience. And toy companies are paying close attention.

While still in its early phase, a growing number of toy marketers are embracing MESH — or mental, emotional and social health — as a designation for toys that teach kids skills like how to adjust to new challenges, resolve conflict, advocate for themselves, or solve problems."

Happy New Year

We wish you a happy and joyful start to the New Year!

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