Mental Health Policy Academy and Fellows
The needs and voices of Texans living with mental illness have a greater impact on policymaking when an organization’s capacity for working on mental health policy increases. Unfortunately, many lack the resources or expertise to tackle policy issues. Launched in 2010, the Hogg Foundation Policy Academy and Fellows program increases individuals’ and organizations’ capacity and expertise to advance mental health policy in Texas, while also increasing the consumer voice in policy development and implementation.
Through the program, up to ten 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, or higher education institutions receive a two-year grant to employ a mental health Policy Fellow (a recent graduate of law, social work, public policy, public health or related field) or a Peer Policy Fellow (an individual with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use conditions). Additionally, the foundation funds a Mental Health Policy Academy, facilitated by Texans Care for Children, for fellows and their mentors, including a one-week federal immersion program based in Washington, D.C. The goal of the academy is to provide substantial professional development and an enriching network in the areas of mental health policy and advocacy.
The request for proposals for 2018 Policy Fellow Grants and Peer Policy Fellow Grants closed in March 2018.
Typically, every two years, eligible organizations in Texas are invited to respond to a request for proposals which funds five Policy Fellow positions and five Peer Policy Fellow positions in 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, or higher education institutions. The grant typically includes 95 percent of the fellow’s salary, 100 percent of fringe benefits, a mentor stipend, professional development allowance, and overhead.
The Hogg Mental Health Policy Academy is a learning community facilitated by Texans Care for Children with support from the Hogg Foundation. Participants in the academy—including a network of mental health policy fellows across the state, their mentors and a cohort of family and consumer participants—receive training to enhance their effectiveness as advocates. They are provided frequent networking opportunities with legislative staffers, policy experts, individuals with lived experience, family members, and direct service providers.
Topics discussed include:
- identifying policy challenges, assessing options for addressing them, and developing policy solutions
- the landscape of Texas and national mental health policy
- strategies for working with and educating decision-makers in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government
- best practices in mental health and effective means for implementing these practices in Texas
- peer support
- organizational development
Effective public policy is essential to realizing meaningful systemic change in mental health services and improvement in the lives of Texans experiencing mental health conditions. Public policy directly impacts the public’s access to mental health services and supports, quality of care, and legal rights and protections. Positive mental health public policy initiatives can increase opportunities for recovery by promoting best practices in treatment and support services.
Public policy encompasses a variety of activities aimed at influencing statutory initiatives, regulatory or judicial actions, organizational practice, and other vehicles of systems change. It is shaped by many variables, including economic factors, political influence and personal experiences, as well as informed advocacy, effective leadership, public interest, and meaningful data.
Nonprofit organizations can greatly impact public policy, yet many report their ability to engage in mental health policy-related activities is constrained by budgetary limitations.
Hogg Program Manager
Colleen Horton, Program Manager