Policy and Advocacy

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Our focus on policy and advocacy focuses on supporting, developing, and leveraging key public policy and advocacy initiatives that will result in improved clinical and community outcomes.

Well Being Trust’s policy strategy and agenda focuses on improving mental health and well-being—both today and tomorrow. As an organization, this requires us to leverage each arm of our portfolio (social, clinical, community, and data and measurement) to address areas specific to mental health and substance misuse and the underlying conditions that can lead to mental health crises and substance misuse disorders. We believe that, as a national foundation focused on advancing the mental, social, spiritual health of the nation, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact through policy.

Well Being Trust is the biggest foundation focused on—like its name—the well-being of Americans. They have just gotten started and their primary focus is [mental health and parity]. We are blessed to have the Well Being Trust jump into this space right now at such a critical juncture for this movement. And, I thank Tyler and Ben and all those at Well Being Trust…” –Patrick J. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative (D-R.I.) and former member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

In November 2017, we partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to co-fund a report with Trust for America’s Health called Pain in the Nation. In this report we highlighted the number of deaths due to drugs, alcohol and suicide over the last decade; projected forward how many more lives we will lose if we do nothing; recommended 60 evidence-based programs and policies that can drive impact; and called for a national resilience strategy. This powerful report has become a platform for policy investments and is already shaping dialogues around the nation and generating an array of blog posts, articles and media interviews. We also created a microsite with data visualizations and  a visual representation of the National Resilience Strategy, providing a high-level path forward to addressing the many factors that contribute to diseases of despair.

For more information on this work visit the report page.


Well Being Trust funded the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to identify policy options to improve the integration of mental health into primary/clinical settings and services. On August 16, BPC hosted a panel discussion among leading experts to further examine best practices and barriers of integrating behavioral health into the “traditional” health care system. The panel focused on the existing delivery structure, public and private program financing, practitioner challenges, accomplishments on the ground, and consumer priorities. This deep dive will expand to include gaps in political information and the federal and state policy environment surrounding mental health policy development, culminating in the public release of an actionable policy options document—which includes an assessment of the merits of each approach—for improving mental health and well-being. In 2019, BPC released Integrating Clinical and Mental Health: Challenges and Opportunities, which  examines the major barriers to integrating clinical health care and mental health services in the United States, including insurance coverage and payment disparities, workforce shortages, and administrative challenges.


Well Being Trust and Hopelab released a new national survey of 14- to 22-year-olds that provides new evidence on the growing mental health crisis affecting young people, finding that large numbers of teens and young adults experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression turn to the internet for help, including researching mental health issues online (90 percent). The survey revealed a complex relationship between social media use and well-being, noting many young people say social media helps them find connection, support, and inspiration during times of depression, stress, or anxiety, but the survey also raised important concerns regarding respondents’ mixed experiences with social media.

For more information on this work visit the report page.

Mental Health Parity

On October 3, Well Being Trust, along with the Kennedy-Satcher Center, the Kennedy Forum, and the Carter Center, released “Evaluating State Mental Health and Addiction Parity Statutes,” with 32 states receiving a failing grade for statues designed to ensure equal access to mental health services. The analysis was spotlighted at a major event on Capitol Hill, during which several members of Congress spoke. For more information on WBT’s focus on meantl health parity, see the Washington Post, an op-ed co-authored by Ben Miller and Patrick Kennedy in STAT News, and a web build-out by Ozy.


For more information on this work visit the report page.

As a founding partner of the United States of Care (USofC), Well Being Trust leadership will become a member of the USofC team—serving as the mental health and well-being policy partner. We will work to ensure that mental health elements are infused seamlessly into the USofC’s work and leverage the work on the state level to help develop state-specific strategies for advancing effective mental health and well-being policies. Check out the on 10 things states can do right now to improve mental health and well-being: