Shatterproof supporting a social change movement to eliminate mental health and SUD stigma. 

Shatterproof, joined Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) and experts across the country to lead a nationwide collaborative effort to eliminate mental health and substance use disorders stigma. The national nonprofit brings their Movement to End Addiction Stigma strategy to the table of this important national initiative.

“We are proud to join this important movement to eliminate stigma as stigma is the biggest killer. It prevents people from seeking the treatment they need and deserve. The key to ultimate change lies in changing the way people think about this disease. Addiction is treatable, and change lies in addressing and eliminating the stigma that causes so much shame, loneliness, and ultimately, so much tragedy,” said Gary Mendell, founder & CEO, Shatterproof.  

A Grand Challenge is a social change movement that shifts beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Past similar movements have included seatbelt usage, recycling, and tobacco campaigns. Grand Challenges require broad support, take place over decades, and have multifaceted strategies to meet a full range of needs. Key elements to the Grand Challenge to eliminate stigma include: 1) development of a committed coalition of national leaders, 2) metrics and research, 3) a focus on equity, 4) policy change and advocacy, 5) and communications. 

“The time is now to come together and normalize mental health and substance use disorder,” said Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO, and Medical Director, American Psychiatric Association. “Mental illness is just like hypertension and heart disease; it can be treated. If we all stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’ together, we can create change and eliminate stigma forever.”

The impact of stigma has been well documented by the National Academies of Medicine and others. Stigma prevents policymakers from crafting laws free from discrimination and discourages students from pursuing mental health careers. The shame caused by stigma keeps people from seeking the treatment they need, leading to increased rates of suicide and substance use disorders. Stigma has led to an underfunded mental health system, and often, those with the most severe needs fall through the cracks.

Experts agree we face a mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 percent of adults are experiencing recent symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even as more individuals experience mental health and substance use disorder challenges, the vast majority do not seek professional help because of stigma. 

“Individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders are among the most discriminated individuals in the world,” said Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO of HMHI at the University of Utah. “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.”

Central to a successful Grand Challenge social movement is the presence of a consistent “backbone” organization. Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah has stepped up to play the role of the backbone and provide staffing, resources, and facilitate a national governing body of recognized leaders. 

Organizations that have signed on to be part of the leadership team and working groups implementing the Grand Challenge include:

  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
  • One Mind
  • Shatterproof
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Rural Behavioral Health Institute
  • The Carter Center
  • Jed Foundation
  • Human Rights Coalition
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Mental Health Coalition

The first meeting of the national collaborative was held in mid-April. In October, a “Design Summit” will be held at Snowbird Resort in Utah, where over 100 organizations committed to eliminating mental health and substance use disorder stigma will meet to build a national network. 



About HMHI

In 2019, the Huntsman Foundation made a historic gift to the University of Utah of $150 million to establish the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI). HMHI has built a reputation throughout the Mountain West as a leader in advanced psychiatric treatment and care, serving a diverse population from young children to geriatric patients. Researchers at HMHI develop and apply the most advanced methods in genetics, imaging, epidemiology, and big data analysis. HMHI is also the regional training center for psychiatry and other mental health disciplines, including psychology, social work, nursing, and expressive therapy. HMHI’s main 170-bed full-service hospital is adjacent to the University of Utah campus and HMHI’s 1,691 faculty, staff, and students provide clinical, research, and training programs in over 20 locations across Utah and Idaho. 

About Shatterproof

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States. Shatterproof harnesses the models of business, the rigor of science and the power of a national movement to create change and save lives through three pillars of work: revolutionizing the addiction treatment system, breaking down addiction-related stigmas and supporting and empowering our communities. To learn more visit


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