People tour the Youth Elemento space at 289 Broadway, Chelsea.

Youth Elemento: A Welcoming Space for Young Adults in Chelsea

Youth Elemento Program Manager Wendy Mancia spoke with WBZ-Radio Reporter Carl Stevens about one of NSMHA’s newest programs, Youth Elemento. The young adult access center offers a variety of amenities and resources for young people ages 16-21 in Chelsea. Click to listen.

NSMHA CBHC Will Serve Chelsea, Revere, East Boston, Winthrop and Charlestown

NSMHA has been designated a Community Behavioral Health Center, which will increase availability and access to mental health and substance use treatment and recovery services in our communities through expanded Urgent Care, crisis intervention and other programming.  As a CBHC, NSMHA will further expand same-day evaluations and referrals to treatment, add more evening and weekend hours, enhance timely follow-up appointments, and offer more peer support, and evidence-based behavioral health treatment – including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – both in person and via telehealth.

“NSMHA is pleased to be part of the Commonwealth’s investment in a high-quality behavioral healthcare system that includes prevention, reduces individuals experiencing crisis, drives client education, and promotes coordination and follow up to reduce emergency department overutilization,” said NSMHA President and CEO Damien Cabezas. Read the press release.

NSMHA Welcomes New CEO, Damien Cabezas

The North Suffolk Mental Health Association family is pleased to welcome Damien Cabezas as our new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Cabezas starts June 13, 2022, succeeding Jackie K. Moore, who has led NSHMA for the last 17 years. An experienced behavioral health leader, Cabezas comes from Mercy Care in Atlanta.

“In her 17 years of service to our organization and the people we serve, Jackie has NSMHA positioned as one of the most innovative and responsive providers of behavioral healthcare in Massachusetts,” said Board President Deborah Wayne. “We believe that Damien is the right person to build on her successes and lead our organization into the future.”

The sone of immigrants who great up in New York, Cabezas earned a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham and a Master of Public Health from New York Medical College. He has experience working in and leading a wide variety of programming that mirrors many of the services offered by NSMHA, including day programs, outpatient and residential programs, and substance use, addiction and recovery services. Read the press release.

Director of Recovery Support Services honored

Our own Director of Recovery Support Services Katie O’Leary was one of 10 women recognized March 1 as part of Chelsea District Court’s Women’s History Month Celebration. The event acknowledged women who are “providing healing and promoting hope.” Said First Justice Matthew Machera of Katie’s work, “keeping people in recovery through these unprecedented times has been beyond remarkable.”

Recovery Court Probation Officer Janelle O’Brien, who introduced Katie, noted that most of the NSMAH Recovery Support team were among the 151 people attending the virtual ceremony. “This work is her life,” O’Brien said. “She is consistently the voice of recovery and recovery support at North Suffolk Mental Health Association and the communities they serve.”

Accepting the Certificate of Recognition, Katie noted that as a woman in long-term recovery, her work is rooted in being an advocate and inspiration for people who feel they don’t have a voice.

In addition to celebrating the contributions of women, Justice Machera also recognized whom he called “hidden heroes” — people in recovery — as well as single moms for their strength and perseverance.

Recovery Staff Share Goals for the New Year, 2022

Some of our NSMHA colleagues – staff at Recovery on the Harbor and Recovery Coaches – recently shared their New Year’s resolutions with reporter Carl Stevens of WBZ Radio. They were liked and shared widely on social media, including Twitter & Instagram. If you need a few minutes of inspiration, you can view all four 1-minute videos at this link:

NSMHA CEO Jackie K. Moore Announces Retirement

CHELSEA – North Suffolk Mental Health Association Chief Executive Officer Jackie K. Moore, Ph.D., has announced her intent to retire after more than 16 years at the helm of the Chelsea-based behavioral health nonprofit. The NSMHA Board of Directors has engaged national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to assist in finding a successor, and Moore intends to stay on through the spring to ensure a smooth transition.

Moore was named CEO in 2005. Under Moore’s leadership, NSMHA has grown into one of the largest behavioral health care providers in Greater Boston, currently employing more than 950 people who serve over 10,000 children, adults and families annually. She has been instrumental in incorporating peers and people with lived experience into the workforce. Over the last decade-plus, NSMHA has expanded in all areas, adding more congregate care facilities, including a home specifically for persons with Acquired Brain Injury; a second recovery support center, located in East Boston; and most recently, a residential treatment program in Chelsea for person with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. One of only 37 such facilities in the state. The agency has also received four federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) since April of 2020.

“After a lot of thought and consideration, I feel that the timing is right to make this transition for more, and more importantly, for North Suffolk,” Moore said. “We’ve always had to fight for resources and finally, the resources and the public recognition of the importance of this work are coming to behavioral health care.

“We’ve weathered COVID-19 — we’re not completely through it, but we can manage it. For all the challenges of the pandemic, it brought out the creativity and innovation of our staff and their commitment to the people we serve. Their work has our organization in a very good place to move forward. It has been a privilege to work with our very talented and caring staff, our Board of Directors, the individuals who trust us to help them, and these wonderful communities.”

Founded in 1959, NSMHA strives to help people achieve independence and fullness of life by providing a wide array of community-based, person-centered treatment, recovery and rehabilitation opportunities; by intervening as early as possible; by promoting prevention, education and hope; and by participating in training and research. The agency now operates more than 75 programs in Chelsea, East Boston, Revere, Downtown Boston, Winthrop, Charlestown and other communities.

Throughout her tenure at NSMHA, Moore has been a strong and vocal advocate for the human services workforce in the Commonwealth, serving on the boards of four state trade associations: the Association for Behavioral Health Care, Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, Children’s League of Massachusetts, and the Providers’ Council. She has testified in support of better wages, higher reimbursement rates, safer workplace practices, and student loan repayment programs for human service workers, among other issues.

NSMHA Conducting Open Virtual Interviews Every Thursday in August

CHELSEA – North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) is hosting open interviews for positions within our residential programs every Thursday in August. The interviews will be conducted virtually between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please email

These positions offer competitive starting pay, great benefits including generous health and life insurance, as well as educational and internal advancement opportunities. Take time on Thursday to meet us! You can see all of our available positions at

BIDMC Invests in NSMHA Program to Break Down Barriers to Mental Health Services in Chelsea
CHELSEA – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has selected 17 local organizations, including North Suffolk Mental Health Association, to receive funding for impactful initiatives in the areas of housing affordability, jobs and financial security, and behavioral health. This funding represents a significant portion of the $18.4 million dollars that will be invested into the community over the next six years as part of the Massachusetts Determination of Need (DoN) process for BIDMC’s new inpatient building.

BIDMC’s Community-Based Health Initiative awarded $270,000 to NSMHA to improve access to behavioral health services in the city of Chelsea over the next two years. The Latino Community Advance Response Team (Latino CART) will start breaking down the racial and ethnic inequities in behavioral health care currently experienced within Chelsea’s Hispanic and Latino population by ensuring direct access to culturally sensitive, quality clinical intensive case management supports. Read the full release here.

NSMHA Celebrates Staff with Appreciation Video

Everyone is going to remember 2020 in their own way, probably based on how they were affected by COVID-19. The Executive Team at North Suffolk wanted to make sure that the effort and response of our organization’s employees would be remembered and celebrated. To do this, NSMHA engaged Rockport-based Persistent Productions to create a video tribute to employees across the agency. P2 conducted two days of photo shoots and interviews in May, visiting a number of houses, clinics and other sites. What resulted is an inspirational celebration of who we are and how we responded. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can view it on our videos page. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re in the loop as we add new content!

A Message to Our Community
North Suffolk Mental Health Association has for decades witnessed the toll of systemic racism and social injustice on the people and communities we serve, as well as on our staff, colleagues and families. As we have witnessed the deaths of black men and women by law enforcement officers, we are angered and saddened. We have no adequate words to explain and certainly none that justify. It is time to listen, to learn, to understand and to change.

We have always been, and continue to be, driven by the necessity of breaking down barriers to access and success; helping to end disparities in healthcare, housing, education; advocating for inclusion and equity of all individuals; and offering safe harbor and support as people work towards a better life.

NSMHA is made up of people from different countries, cultures, religious backgrounds, skin colors, gender identities, languages and abilities. It contributes to our richness and capacity to serve the diverse communities in which we work. There should be no place in our interactions, our workspaces, our communities or our country for racism or for acts of violence that represent a disregard for human rights and dignity.

In our organization and our community, the effects of racism cannot and should not be denied or ignored. It is important that we confront our beliefs, our biases and our personal histories and that we learn to work together to ensure that ours is a culture of inclusion and acceptance. So we will listen. We will hear you. We will see you. And we will stand together for understanding and change.

Jackie K. Moore, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer, North Suffolk Mental Health Association