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UPDATED April 29: CORE Mental Health held a launch party at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the Arlington Community Center, 27 Maple St. The purpose was to share CORE's programming, which reimagines mental health supports in communities of color in Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, Waltham and Watertown, a news release said.

There was food, music and connection with the group's community mental health supporters, its fellows and its steering committee. CORE Interim Planning Director Pietra Check said in the release: “This event is an opportunity for both longtime supporters and new friends to get to know and support our mission and exciting work -- while connecting with others interested in racial equity and mental health.”

Formerly known as CHNA17 -- one of many community health networks serving Massachusetts with general community-based services -- the regional organization has renamed itself CORE Mental Health (Coalition for Racial Equity and Mental Health) to make clear its current focus. CORE Mental Health states that it is a nonprofit coalition that works to advance racial equity in mental health at the institutional and individual levels through innovative community collaborations.

“We have a medical system that was created for white individuals and has historically caused harm to Black patients. Most Black residents will never see a therapist, let alone a Black therapist. Only 4 percent of psychologists and 2 percent of psychiatrists are reported to be Black," CORE Steering Committee Chair Betty Burkes said in the news release. "Within this system of few Black mental health providers and an inaccessible, hostile medical system, Black individuals will continue to lean on trusted folks in their communities. CORE's flagship programs respond to this need."

At the individual level, the fellowship program supports Black graduate students in mental health degree programs both financially and with networking. The Community Mental Health Supporters program creates a community of practice among Black hair stylists, barbers and pastors to better equip them to support community members who come to them with substance abuse and mental health issues. At the institutional level, CORE offers several different trainings to help organizations on their journeys toward racial equity.

Learn more about CORE here >>

This announcement was published Tuesday, April 16, 2024, based on a news release from Betty Burkes, CORE Steering Committee chair. It was updated April 29, 2024, to indicate that the event took place.