In an op-ed published in The Dallas Morning News, Philanthropy Roundtable Interim President and CEO Christie Herrera writes that, with one in five U.S. adults living with mental illness, private philanthropy is an essential tool that can help solve the nation’s mental health crisis. While “government agencies are attempting to address the lack of mental health resources, research and access to care,” Herrera argues that the government cannot alone solve this problem – and philanthropy has much to offer in addressing it.
Below are excerpts from the article:
“Fortunately, Americans have a secret weapon in fighting this battle — private philanthropy. Philanthropy has historically played a life-saving role in the medical field from helping us to eradicate polio to the more recent development of the COVID-19 vaccine. And, today, philanthropy is supporting numerous nonprofits that serve those living with mental illness, advance vital research and train mental health practitioners who can provide quality care.
One organization making great strides in early intervention and leading the nation in grief and trauma counseling for children and teens is the Hackett Center for Mental Health. Based in Houston, the Hackett Center’s inaugural effort was launched to help heal communities traumatized by Hurricane Harvey. The center has since advanced a range of regional mental health initiatives that focus primarily on children, youth and families — such as helping children cope with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another vulnerable population that consistently struggles with mental health issues is our nation’s veterans. According to the Wounded Warrior Project, “1 in 3 veterans live with post-traumatic stress disorder” and “1 in 3 veterans also feel they don’t get the mental health services they need.”
After learning about problems with the care some veterans were receiving from the Veterans Health Administration, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus decided he needed to get involved. Today, the Marcus Foundation helps care for as many as 20,000 veterans diagnosed with conditions like traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress annually by partnering with local hospitals to create a network of mental health support. Its innovative Atlanta-based SHARE Military Initiative rehabilitation program, for instance, has gained national renown for the education, care and support it provides to veterans and service members — at no cost to them.
The lack of access to quality mental health care is indeed a crisis in this country, but solutions are out there. Public education, reducing stigma, supporting mental health research and engaging families and faith communities in solutions are all ways that we can contribute to addressing this crisis — and private philanthropy is leading the way in supporting them.”
To read the complete article, please visit The Dallas Morning News.
Editor’s Note: The original piece misstated the location of The Hackett Center, which is an affiliate of the Dallas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. The Hackett Center is physically located in Houston, Texas.