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Increasing behavioral health equity in Massachusetts: MBHP will award $250K in grant funding

The Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP) is a Beacon Health Options company and a leader in helping people lead healthier lives through access to critical services. As part of its commitment to behavioral health equity and access, MBHP recently awarded more than $130K in grants to five organizations from across the Commonwealth to increase access to and engagement in behavioral healthcare for diverse populations. This funding is the first round of a grant cycle that will ultimately distribute $250K in grants focused on this pressing issue.

MBHP received more than 100 submissions from across Massachusetts. After a comprehensive review and decision-making process, the following organizations were awarded grant funding:

Funds will be used by grantees to improve health equity for diverse populations by creating sustainable programs that improve access to behavioral healthcare. Read on for details on each grantee and program.

Aspire Health Alliance (Aspire)

Providing a full spectrum of behavioral health services to clients throughout their lifespan including prevention, counseling and crisis services.

Aspire will use health equity grant funding to increase awareness of mental health issues among underserved Asian and Haitian Creole populations in Randolph and Quincy, two diverse communities in the southeast. The goals of their program include:

  • Providing timely referrals to treatment
  • Increasing the capacity for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT)
  • Expanding partnerships with Quincy College and UMass-Boston to provide MHFA and MHAT training to young adults in Randolph and Quincy
  • Increasing access to training and services by engaging well-established community partners such as Quincy and Randolph public schools, the South Shore office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Enhance Asian Community on Health (EACH) and area churches

Community Health Network Area 17 (CHNA 17)

Working to eliminate racial inequities by providing resources and programs that illuminate stories and lived experiences to build a bridge for communication and understanding. 

CHNA 17 will use health equity grant funds to deepen and expand its work to create equitable access to mental health, specifically through workforce development activities. The organization’s focus was informed by an extensive community health needs assessment and strategic planning, which identified gaps in the intersection of mental health and racial equity, especially for Black residents. Goals for the grant project include:

  • Partnering with Black graduate mental health students to provide financial support, help build professional networks, and connect them to experienced Black mental health providers
  • Supporting a pipeline of Black mental health providers entering the field
  • Raising awareness of what is needed to create safer workplaces and increase retention of Black mental health providers
  • Increasing institutional support for and incorporation of culturally relevant mental health services practiced by non-traditional mental health providers

Ensuring that all Deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults thrive by having the knowledge, opportunity and power to design the future of their choice.

The Learning Center for the Deaf, Inc. (TLC)

TLC will use health equity grant funding to contract with nationally renowned experts and local Deaf stakeholders of color to develop and implement cultural competence training for mental health clinicians and staff who serve this group. Goals include:

  • Training staff
  • Identifying and addressing policy and procedural barriers to care
  • Developing a racial trauma training curriculum for the broader staff base at TLC
  • Expanding training to therapists and interpreters who work with Deaf persons of color and hard of-hearing individuals in mental health contexts across Massachusetts

The NAN Project

Promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs for young people

The NAN Project uses a peer-to-peer model to open up the conversation concerning young adult mental health. In addition, the organization works to provide professional development for educators and community gatekeepers and provides public education through periodic speaking events for parents and stakeholders.

The NAN project will use health equity grant funds to help normalize the conversation around mental health challenges and the supports that are available. Goals of the program include:

  • Providing peer mentor trainings to 20 – 30 young adult peer mentors of color to serve Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Chelsea, Everett and Brockton
  • Presenting peer-to-peer programming with staff and students in identified area high schools to establish sustainable relationships, facilitate the sharing of lived experience, and connect youth to community supports
  • Providing professional development to 50 educators in Brockton to raise awareness about youth mental health, identify youth who are struggling and connect them to appropriate resources

Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs (Walker)

Transforming the lives of children and youth who face complex emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges

Walker partners with children and youth, their families, and communities to nurture hope, build strengths and develop lifelong skills. MBHP funds will help the organization expand its ability to increase knowledge of and access to mental health services for diverse and underserved populations in the Quincy area. Specifically, Walker will strengthen its partnership with Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI) to:

  • Host family nights for students, parents, and/or involved adult caregivers who are members of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant communities in the Quincy area, with a primary goal of increasing students’ and families’ knowledge of available mental health services and how to access them
  • Increase the utilization of mental health services among members of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant communities in the Quincy area
  • Translate informational brochures and intake paperwork from English to Chinese, Arabic, and Turkish to better meet the cultural and linguistic needs of persons who receive services

Beacon Health Options and the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership are committed to advancing health equity so that all people can receive individualized care that demonstrates cultural humility and improves health and wellbeing. Congratulations to this year’s behavioral health equity and access grant recipients!


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