This primer is designed to increase understanding of the behavioral health care system in Massachusetts and the issues affecting access to care for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. It is intended to serve as a foundation for future work focused on behavioral health system solutions.
This resource provides a brief background on the state’s behavioral health system, a historical overview of policy changes that have affected access to behavioral health care, and a review of prevalence data highlighting trends in mental health and substance use disorders. The remaining sections present state specific data on four primary factors affecting access to behavioral health care: 1) workforce capacity; 2) system capacity; 3) affordability; and 4) quality. This primer concludes with a review of the gaps in available data on these topics and behavioral health care generally, which limits the ability to provide a comprehensive account of the behavioral health system and client access.