Mental illness is not a crime. Yet far too many individuals receive their first diagnosis of mental illness in jail or prison — a result of stigma, discrimination, racism, as well as the persistent and systemic failure of the United States healthcare system to provide affordable, accessible, community-based mental health care.
Despite this complex web of factors, the Foundation believes an opportunity exists to make measurable progress to decriminalize mental illness by increasing access to mental health care in communities.
Through our Annual Sozosei Summit to Decriminalize Mental Illness and our grantmaking, the Foundation is eager to engage in dialogue and work collaboratively to move the needle to decriminalize mental illness in the United States. Mental illness is not a crime.
The Foundation recognizes the complex ecosystem within which efforts to decriminalize mental illness exists. Within that ecosystem we focus on upstream approaches to increase access to mental health care in communities across four strategic pillars:
Envisioning and building a United States where people with mental illness can access quality mental health care in communities—before, during, and after emergencies – through advocacy, litigation, enforcement of the Mental Health Parity Act, increasing the number of psychiatrists and effective implementation of 988.
Centering artists and art to increase access to mental health care, and building awareness and compassion by supporting work that gives a voice to lived experience through podcasts, journalism, documentaries, music, visual arts, and more.
Building, sharing, and promoting data collection to drive best practices and spark new ideas and course correction.
Supporting innovative community-based programs that have the potential to become national models.
GLOBAL SOLUTION LAB REPORT - AUGUST 8, 2020
The Foundation recently kicked off a series of Global Solution Labs to surface more knowledge and perspectives about how to create a future where mental illness is not treated as a crime. Over 50 multi-disciplinary “Solutionists” gathered on May 7, 2021, to take on the ambitious task of identifying the top solutions to move the needle on the decriminalization of mental illness. Read the report here.
BOOK DISCUSSION OF THE CRIMINALIZATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS - JUNE 3, 2020
In the spirit of collaboration, we recently hosted a Virtual Book Club featuring authors and renowned psychiatrist Dr. James Knoll and renowned psychologist Dr. Joel Dvoskin. Led by Sozosei Board Member, Mary Chi Michael, Dr. Knoll and Dr. Dvoskin discussed their contribution to the recently released book, “Decriminalizing Mental Illness” with more than 100 attendees. Read the report here.
For a full list of the Foundation's grantee partners in the Decriminalization of Mental Illness portfolio please visit our Grantee Partners database.