Key Points

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health’s mission is to transform how communities promote mental health in everyday life. Policy engagement — fundamental to improving the social and structural determinants of mental health — has always been a strategic priority for the foundation, which has become a trusted resource for mental health and substance use policy issues in Texas. Yet, the state’s mental health and substance use policy community is limited in size, capacity, and training.

To address that reality, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Policy Academy and Policy Fellow Initiative was launched to invest in a mental health policy academy facilitated by a nonprofit organization and to support community organizations in employing and mentoring full-time policy fellows for two years. The academy provides a structured environment and a curriculum that covers the legislative process and technical policy skills, and it strengthens relationships within and around the Texas Capitol.

A retrospective evaluation shows that a decade of investment in both the policy academy and policy fellowship has significantly improved the landscape of mental health and substance use policy in the state. Since the program’s inception there has been an increase in peer and recovery services and the peer support workforce across the state.

The initiative also deepened policy fellows’ understanding of and ability to navigate the policy arena and increased the capacity of community organizations for effective policy engagement. Alumni have moved into prominent leadership positions, and each cohort adds to a growing network of advocates and organizations working to improve mental health and well-being in Texas.

Open Access