There has never been a more urgent time to address mental health and addiction. One in five people experience a mental health disorder and one in ten experience a substance use disorder (SUD), contributing to rising rates of so-called deaths of despair—those related to drugs, alcohol, or suicide. Beyond the devastating loss of life, every day, millions of people, their loved ones, and their communities live with the challenges of mental health and addiction. This human toll is matched by an economic toll: more than $200 billion in healthcare costs, reduced workforce productivity, over-taxed social services, and nearly $200 billion in lost earnings each year in the United States alone.

But there is hope. In recent years, researchers and clinicians have gained a new and deeper knowledge of the brain. More and more evidence exists on which approaches are most effective at preventing, treating, and supporting the recovery and long-term management of mental health disorders and addiction. At the same time, there is increased public awareness of the need to better address mental health and addiction. This combination of knowledge, attention, and public engagement makes it a unique time for philanthropy to act.

Against this context, funders often ask: How can I help?