The Springfield Youth Mental Health Coalition is convened by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.  The Coalition consists of a stellar advisory board and an outstanding youth coalition, known as "Beat the Odds", led by Ariana Williams, Director of Public Health at Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services. 

In 2019 we embarked on a year long planning process to identify an existing health concern exacerbated by the presence of a casino in Springfield, MA.  The Advisory Committee gathered diverse community and content expert input as well as data from existing assessments of community health needs. The planning process narrowed from a list of fifteen potential issues to one, youth behavioral health.

Youth behavioral health is a serious concern in Springfield as raised by local data, community voices, and local content experts. Risks to youth behavioral health include gambling and the presence of a casino, and also go far beyond that issue.

Advisory Board

  • Joy Allen, Prospering Well
  • Madeline Aviles - Hernandez, Gándara Center
  • Alisa Ainbinder, Public Health Institute of Western MA
  • Jessica Collins, Public Health Institute of Western MA
  • Tamera Crenshaw, Tools for Success Counseling
  • Julie Donovan, Springfield Public Schools
  • Ysabel Garcia, Estoy Aqui Community
  • Chrismery Gonzalez, Springfield Health and Human Services- Office of Racial Equity
  • Joesiah Gonzalez, New North Citizens Council
  • Malikah Jeffries, Gándara Center
  • Rebecca Johnson, Baystate Health
  • Ronn Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services
  • David Lewis, African Diaspora Mental Health Association
  • Katherine Mague, Behavioral Health Network
  • Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation
  • Dr. Mimi O’Neill, Springfield Public Schools
  • Holly Richardson, Out Now
  • Frank Robinson, Baystate Health
  • Ariana Williams, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services
  • Kara Wolf, Baystate Health

Our Funders

We would like to thank the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Problem Gambling Services for supporting this important work in Springfield!

What's Next for the Coalition?

  • Work with AxiomBlue and experts in our City to design a “normalizing youth mental health” communications campaign that will be geared toward youth;

  • Complete a peer-to-peer prevention training and advise on infrastructure development;

  • Engage with more parents, guardians, educators, etc. around making youth mental health a priority and effective strategies while assisting youth;

  • Work with the Public Health Institute of Western MA and the Youth Health Survey Advisory Group to disseminate the Youth Health Survey 2021 Findings; 

  • Create PhotoVOICE projects to highlight community environments that could be enhanced to support youth mental health; and

  • Continue to work with Springfield Public School team to support their efforts working with students and family.