Huntsman launches collaborative to eliminate mental health and SUD stigma nationwide


Patrick Jones


The Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) at the University of Utah announced the launch of a nationwide “Grand Challenge” collaborative on Monday to combat mental health and substance use disorder stigma. Mark Rapaport, M.D, CEO of HMHI, recently discussed this collaborative at our 2022 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference in a panel discussion about behavioral health. 


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A Grand Challenge is a kind of social movement that brings together diverse communities of stakeholders to attempt to solve “complex problems with far-reaching societal implications that lack a clear solution,” according to an Academy of Management journal

The key elements this collaborative will focus on to eliminate stigma are the development of a committed coalition of national leaders, metrics and research, a focus on equity, policy change, and advocacy.

“We are honored to have such prestigious national organizations join Huntsman Mental Health Institute and our family in this Grand Challenge to end mental health stigma,” said David Huntsman, President and COO of the Huntsman Foundation said in a press release. “This partnership will make a powerful impact as we spread the word that there is ‘no health without mental health’ and that we need to begin to treat our mental health as we would any physical ailment.”

HMHI said stigma prevents policymakers from creating laws free of discrimination. They also said that it prevents students from entering careers in mental and behavioral health. The shame accompanied by societal stigma also causes many not to seek the treatment they need, which HMHI said leads to more suicides and substance use disorders. 

“Individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders are among the most discriminated individuals in the world,” said Rapaport in the same press release. “We have the opportunity together to change that reality. It will not happen overnight; it will take many voices and require us to work together in new ways to synergize the incredible work already happening in this area and join together to create real and lasting change.” 

Some organizations that agreed to be part of this collaborative include the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, Rural Behavioral Health Institute, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health Coalition, and more. 

The first meeting of this collaborative was held earlier this month. A “Design Summit” will be held this October in Utah’s Snowbird Resort, which HMHI said over 100 organizations have committed to attend to help build out the initiative’s national network.