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  • Jul 12, 2021

CHA Awarded $6 Million NIMH Grant to Improve Youth Mental Health

Grant will help CHA establish a learning health community in its diverse neighborhoods.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville and Boston's metro-north communities, has been awarded a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant titled "ALACRITY for Early Screening and Treatment of High Risk Youth (eSToRY)." It will provide more than $6 million across four years to fund multiple community-engaged research projects, provide training opportunities for trainees and junior faculty of color and improve methods for identifying and treating youth at high risk for suicide and mental illness.

eSToRY is dedicated to early detection of mental illness, preventing adverse outcomes, improving quality of care and fostering equity in treatment for racial, ethnic and language (REL)-minority youth (defined as children, adolescents and young adults under 25 years of age).

Across multiple research projects, CHA's Health Equity Research Lab and its Department of Psychiatry will establish a learning health community in the diverse neighborhoods surrounding CHA to address the well-recognized barriers to care for youth with mental health needs, deploying a sophisticated health data infrastructure to adapt, test and implement evidence-based practices to accelerate healthcare improvements. The team will hold regular training events and pilot research grant opportunities intended to build capacity to identify and reduce racial, ethnic and gender disparities in mental health treatment.

"We need better tools to help adolescents of color recover from discrimination and trauma that they experience in their homes, schools and communities, and we need to better understand the early stages of mental illness to prevent the disability and loss of life associated with serious mental illness and suicide," said Benjamin Cook, PhD, MPH, principal investigator and director of the Health Equity Research Lab. "This award gives us the opportunity to pursue that work at Cambridge Health Alliance and its teen health centers in Everett, Somerville, and Cambridge with community, academic and clinical stakeholders in collaboration with an incredibly diverse population of youth and their families in the Boston area."

"We are extremely grateful to NIMH for helping to create a learning health system devoted to health equity at CHA as well as a model learning health community devoted to social justice for underserved populations in Boston's metro-north region," added Philip Wang, MD, DrPH, principal investigator and chair and chief of psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance.

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