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2017 Well Being Trust Annual Report

Tyler Norris, writing in the 2017 Well Being Trust Annual Report:

This is a promising moment for our nation, as the importance of mental health and well-being become obvious to growing numbers of Americans and awareness of mental health disorders, addiction and related conditions are emerging from the shadows and moving onto the front page. For a long time, diseases of despair— depression, anxiety, addiction, thoughts of suicide—have been stigmatized as character flaws or moral failures, and even today are widely viewed as a personal matter, something to be covered up, kept out of sight, never talked about. The responsibility for caring and healing still largely falls on the individuals involved and their friends and family.

But this is changing. Conversations about mental health and substance misuse and the search for solutions are now happening everywhere, across age groups, sectors and political lines.

This, in turn, is fostering a new awareness that the answers to mental health and well-being are found not only in clinics and public agencies but also at school, at work and in communities. There is a realization that we need policies that build neighborhoods that have a sense of hope, meaningful opportunity and paths out of poverty. This shift in thinking is arising at just the right time.

As American people, we are not all faring well. While the most fortunate among us are experiencing healthier, longer lives, many of us—especially the most vulnerable—will live sicker, shorter lives than our parents. A century-long trend of increasing lifespans is reversing.

Over 1 million Americans have died unnecessarily in the last 10 years from alcohol, drugs and suicide. This is the equivalent of nine school buses going over a cliff…every…single…day. Current projections for these “deaths of despair” point to increases of 80 – 100 percent in the coming decade. That means another two million lives lost. Parents and children gone. Families suffering. Businesses, schools and communities torn apart.

It’s a national crisis that poses a grave threat to our country. But we have solutions. We know there is no surer path to stronger communities, a thriving economy and robust homeland security than overturning the decline in well-being among the American people.

I am hopeful. We are seeing signs of progress every day—people turning to one another for support, and communities working to remove the barriers that divide. We are witnessing innovative solutions that stem the suffering, increase access to integrated care, and improve the community conditions that give rise to intergenerational well-being and resilience. Advancing this work, and being a catalyst to significantly amplify these efforts, is the focus of Well Being Trust!

With a bold mission, a growing set of partners, a newly formed staff and advisory team of national leaders, and an initial endowment, Well Being Trust is helping galvanize the evidence base, the shared understanding, the tools and the community will that is essential for measurably advancing our nation’s health and well-being.

Blessed by the vision of our first investor-partner, Providence St. Joseph Health, and rooted in the social justice mission lived by its foundresses for over 160 years, Well Being Trust is an open platform for health systems and partners across sectors to drive transformative change.

Delivering on our mission will take all of us working across sectors, politics, geographies, generations and walks of life.

We hope you are inspired by what you read and feel called to deepen your exploration of what you can do where you live, learn, work, play and pray to create a society where EVERYONE has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential for well-being.