Tyler Norris, MDiv, CEO
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These are challenging times, especially for the most vulnerable among us. I am seeking solace in the prayer of a wise woman in my faith tradition, written while isolated in a cell during a period of great adversity: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
As we rise to the complex challenges presented by COVID-19, the importance of our relationships with each other—as individuals, families, co-workers, communities, and with our planet—becomes ever clearer.
The initial set of actions Well Being Trust is taking early in this pandemic (see below) are rooted in our unwavering commitment to meaningful human connection and belonging, as core to mental health and well-being. This affirms our core mission and current investment portfolio focused on saving lives from deaths of despair by increasing affordable access to integrated whole-person care, and by addressing the upstream social, economic and environmental conditions that contribute to preventable human suffering and shortened lifespan in the first place. With COVID – this agenda is more important now than ever.
While the full toll of coronavirus on human life has yet to be experienced, the pandemic is already serving as a magnifying glass on the profound suffering, deep inequities and broken systems present in our society. COVID-19 arrives at a time when our country is already in dire straits and has mostly failed to act comprehensively on proven solutions to improve mental health, addiction and well-being outcomes.
For Well Being Trust, facing COVID means leveraging our resources NOW and ongoingly in bringing about changes to make mental, social, and spiritual health a national priority.
1. We are proactively messaging the vital importance of increasing social connection and being physically active in nature, and other well-being practices (sleep, healthy food, laughter) even as we practice “physical distancing” as an essential preventive measure.
2. We are focusing our formidable social media channels and influencer/partners in: helping people access needed care and supports; to know what they can do for self-care and to help others who are struggling; and to take effective immediate community actions rooted in the evidence base. #BeWell #BeHeard #BeThere.
3. We are working with our state and federal policy partners to ensure mental health is being addressed in proposed COVID response/relief packages.
4. We are activating alongside our National Advisory Council and the partnerships and alliances we have helped co-create and fund, such as the WIN Network, the Well Being Alliance, and the partners engaging around Healing the Nation.
5. We are reaching out to our current grantees and contractors to see if they need to adapt their work plans / timelines as they address the impact of COVID on their teams, initiatives and communities.
6. We have made a financial commitment toward the immediate needs of the most vulnerable in our hometown Oakland community, via the East Bay Community Foundation — COVID-19: A Just East Bay Response Fund. This EBCF Fund will rapidly deploy resources to organizations addressing the economic impact of the broader COVID-19 outbreak, including the immediate needs of people, communities and organizations affected by coronavirus-related closures.
7. We are exploring mini-grants (with a pay-it-forward model) to people, organizations and communities with creative ideas on how to advance ‘social connection’ in times of ‘physical distancing’.
Personal well-being is more important now than ever. Stay connected via tech with those you love and who love you. Eat healthy. Be physically active (ideally in nature.) Get rest. Laugh! Do the things that bring you and those you love JOY!
With both distributed and collective actions, we can face this pandemic together. In the process Well Being Trust will be continuing our work to address the underlying system failures and inequities that coronavirus is highlighting. Our relationships and interconnectedness are our greatest strength.
Tyler Norris, MDiv, CEO
Well Being Trust