The Policy, Advocacy, and Communication (PAC) Team at NAMI Mass aims to provide direction and guidance on policy issues affecting mental health in the Commonwealth to Affiliates, state agencies, community stakeholders, advocates, and the general public. Legislation is organized by primary area of focus, but categories do often overlap. Top priority bills are marked with an asterisk (*).

We acknowledge that these bills are only a small fraction of the legislation that can potentially impact an individual living with a mental health condition, because everyone’s needs are different. If you are interested in a piece of legislation not on this list, please feel free to connect with Amanda or Jacqueline for more information. The PAC Team is happy to provide you support in learning more about any piece of legislation.

Download a 1-page overview of our top priority legislation

Questions? Email Amanda Stone, Communications & Public Policy Specialist, or Jacqueline Hubbard, Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Communications.


Approximately one in five adults experience a mental health condition each year (NAMI, CDC). NAMI Mass views mental health as a key component of overall health and core to who we are as people. NAMI Mass supports legislation that strengthens robust, comprehensive, and affordable mental health coverage and ensures equitable access to mental health care.




H.1980: An Act relative to ending unnecessary hospitalizations and reducing emergency department boarding*

Massachusetts residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis can be involuntarily detained or taken to hospital emergency departments (ED) where they can wait for days or weeks without treatment. Emergency Department (ED) “boarding” is a legal limbo where people are not receiving active treatment in a therapeutic milieu, and can be detained indefinitely, with no way to challenge their involuntarily confinement.

The bill will reduce ED boarding and unnecessary hospitalizations of people involuntarily detained under § 12(a) by:

— requiring mental health professionals to explore and exhaust community-based alternatives before pursing hospitalizations, including the Behavioral Health Help Line, and services through Community Behavioral Health Centers(CBHCs) (e.g. mobile crisis interventions, and community crisis stabilization)

— after exhausting less restrictive alternatives the MH professional authorizes transport to nearest CBHC and if CBHC is unable to prevent likelihood of serious harm, the person is taken to inpatient psychiatric facility.

— person can only be transported to ED if there is no open bed at a psychiatric facility within a 30 mile radius

— provide information to persons in ED regarding legal rights within 12 hours of arrival and ensure they have access to a judicial hearing if they are still in the ED 48 hours after arrival

— create a real-time database of open psychiatric beds

— require a collection of data by Department of Mental Health and reported to legislature annually

S.1248: An Act to increase investment in behavioral health care in the Commonwealth*

Creates a requirement for a 30% increase in behavioral health expenditures over baseline behavioral health care spending. Health care systems and insurers would be held accountable for achieving the behavioral health investment target starting in 2027 through the same process currently in effect for the health care cost growth benchmark – i.e. through the Health Policy Commission (HPC) cost growth hearing process and the performance improvement plan process.

S.610/H.989: An Act for Supportive Care for Serious Mental Illness*

Requires commercial health insurers to cover these evidence-based practices for first incident psychosis delivered with multi-disciplinary teams who provide wraparound service 24x7x365. Bill also includes coverage for assertive community treatment. This expands benefits to achieve parity.

S.631: An Act relative to access to care for serious mental illness

Coverage for medications used to prevent, assess, or treat serious mental illness without requiring prior authorization or the initiation or completion of a step therapy protocol

Criminal Justice Reform

People with mental health conditions can be more vulnerable to discrimination and violations of their human rights in our current systems, including courts, jails, and prisons. We recognize the structural inequities shaped by our laws and policies. NAMI Mass supports mechanisms to ensure the concerns and violations in these systems are equitably addressed.




S.1239/H.2985: An Act to transfer Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health*

Will transfer oversight of Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH) to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) from the Department of Corrections (DOC).

S.1493/H.2325: An Act related to rehabilitation, re-entry, and human rights for incarcerated persons

Will establish universal baseline conditions standards for everyone incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons, county jails, and house of correction.

Education on Mental Health

A mental health condition shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to having and keeping a job. NAMI Mass supports policies that ensure people living with mental health conditions are never discriminated against in the workplace. This includes supporting legislation that promotes a better workplace environment and ensures companies prioritize employee wellbeing.




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

Requires all K-12 public and charter schools to provide mental health education to students – mental health as part of overall health, signs and symptoms, how to get help, etc.

S.1237/H.1999: An Act relative to student mental health

Includes 988 on all student identification cards

Family Support

NAMI Mass centers the voices of individuals and families with lived experience and draws from this wisdom to shape our priorities, policy agenda, and programs. We use our voices of people and families with lived experience to challenge discrimination and advocate for a more equitable and just world. We support legislation that helps parents, siblings, partners, children, and others within the family system who are living with a mental health condition or are the loved one of a person living with a mental health condition.




S.1037/H.1601: An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in Family and Juvenile Court proceedings*

This will require the courts to:
— determine if a parent’s disability causes actual harm to a child based on evidence, not assumptions
— explain, in writing, if a parent’s disability is a negative factor in custody and parenting time decisions
— assess if the harm can be avoided with adaptive equipment or supportive services for the parent

Workplace Mental Health

A mental health condition shouldn’t be a barrier to having and keeping a job. NAMI Mass supports policies that ensure people living with mental health conditions are never discriminated against in the workplace. This includes supporting legislation that promotes a better workplace environment and working with companies to ensure employee wellbeing.




H.940/S.669: An Act requiring mental health parity for disability policies

Requires parity for behavioral health in regard to disability insurance related to employment