Ima Hogg with Robert Lee Sutherland“While we were interested in mental illness, our greatest interest was in the preventive side of the problem. I feel that the illness itself is a medical problem and that the foundation should emphasize mental health while cooperating wherever possible.”

– Miss Ima Hogg

Miss Ima was wise beyond her time. Even 70 years ago, she felt that the foundation should be focused on prevention of mental illness rather than treatment, and we are newly inspired by her vision today.

Over the last several months, the Hogg Foundation worked with strategic planning consulting group FSG and many of our stakeholders to determine what changes the foundation wants to see in the community as a result of our work, and where we should focus our resources over the next several years. The planning process included expert interviews, a consumer listening session, surveys, focus groups and workshops. FSG synthesized a wide array of opinions, insights and ideas from people across Texas and beyond, and then worked with foundation staff to identify a new strategic direction.

Though much work remains to implement our new strategic plan, we are excited to begin shifting our focus to support community environments that promote mental health and well-being.

We believe that people thrive when communities promote mental health in everyday life.

In the last decade, the foundation has been instrumental in promoting concepts and practices that strengthen recovery, spreading the idea that people can and do recover from mental illness to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Building on this work, the foundation will now shift from a primary focus on treatment of mental illness to an emphasis on supporting community environments that promote positive mental health in everyday life. In short, the foundation envisions a future in which all people in Texas thrive in communities that support mental health, achieve health equity, and promote well-being.

Mental health is not solely an individual responsibility, but is also a product of community conditions.

A growing body of research demonstrates that mental health and wellness are influenced and shaped by our communities. The places where people live, learn, work, play and pray can have a significant impact on improving mental health. Some mental health conditions are exacerbated by medical or clinical barriers, such as the shortage of mental health professionals in Texas. However, many poor outcomes stem from challenging environmental factors like housing stability, neighborhood infrastructure, and conditions at home, work and school.

The potential for change is greater when we focus our efforts on marginalized populations.

There are groups of people in Texas who experience more mental health challenges as a result of differences in exposure to community-level factors. This differential exposure is partly a result of disparate social, environmental and economic conditions that stem from structural differences in power and resources. Community-based approaches can improve these conditions and effectively address mental health inequity.

Like the curb cuts in sidewalks initially designed for people using wheelchairs that resulted in benefits for many others (parents with strollers, people with mobility challenges, travelers with wheeled luggage), policies or programs intended to support one group often have positive effects for everyone.

Working collaboratively, we can change the patterns of mental illness across Texas.

There are opportunities to change the patterns of mental illness across the state by altering the way that non-clinical settings, like schools and workplaces, support and promote mental health. The foundation will take an inclusive approach through which communities, particularly those historically marginalized or excluded, take an active role in identifying and improving conditions that impact mental health.

In recognition of the systemic nature of the barriers to mental health, the foundation will work collaboratively with a variety of partners, including consumers and family members, community organizations, civic leaders, practitioners and researchers, to inform strategies and transform how communities promote mental health.

For more on the foundation’s new strategic direction, read Promoting Mental Health in Everyday Life and Strategic Focus on Communities and Collaboration.