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Issues in Mental Health Policy

Our Mental Health Policy Initiative strives to explore the public, policy, and treatment implications of a range of issues pertaining to mental health and mental illness. Events such as mass shootings, the widespread incarceration of the mentally ill, and the unfolding trauma of children forcibly separated from their parents at the border remind us that public issues and clinical issues necessarily overlap, and that it can be folly to examine one without understanding the workings of the other. By bringing the treatment and research expertise of a major medical institution into dialogue with pressing social issues, we hope to foster better understandings and improved policy approaches to problems in our modern world.

This initiative is geared toward clinicians, students, journalists, policymakers, researchers, and others with an interest in mental health and social policy, and is presently composed of two arms. Our Issues in Mental Health Policy Seminars invite speakers from a variety of backgrounds to lecture on a range of topics, many of them urgent. With expertise in domains such as opioid addiction, history, law, and local governance, they offer context and invite insight into what we know, what we don’t know, and what we badly need to find out.  The forty-five minute discussion period following every presentation creates space for a vigorous dialogue between experts, clinicians, and others in attendance, a critical step in breaking down disciplinary silos and opening a broader understanding of potential solutions.

Our white papers, or “Fact Sheets” on selected mental health issues seek to distill the clinical, historical, and periodical literature into accessible, easy to read papers. Heavily researched and carefully footnoted, they are intended to be of particular use to journalists, policy makers, and others in need of detailed information at a glance. Once developed, these fact sheets are periodically updated and maintained by Institute staff. Fact sheets are drawn from peer-reviewed journals, government data, public and philanthropic foundations, and other scholarly sources.