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Creating the first mental health and substance use disorder federal policy guide

Health Policy Research, Development and Analysis

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Our country is facing an unprecedented mental health and substance use disorder crisis, with more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults currently living with a mental illness. While mental health has been on the rise for years, it came into acute focus in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of loneliness, social isolation, and stress caused by grief, uncertainty, and instability. This uncertainty led to increased mental health symptoms at rates six times higher than early 2019. Furthermore, substance use disorders have also increased, with KFF reporting that the overall drug overdose death rate rose by 50% during COVID-19. To address this growing problem, Pyxis Partners aligned with Social Driver, who in coordination with The Kennedy Forum’s policy team, developed a sophisticated policy matrix to warehouse and categorize all the policies identified. The first-of-its-kind federal policy guide, the Alignment for Progress: A National Strategy for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder, includes more than 200 concrete federal policy recommendations that have the ability to drive progress and improve the country’s response to the mental health and substance use disorder crisis impacting countless communities.


Given the current state of mental health in America, The Kennedy Forum established this effort as a priority. And, given Pyxis Partners’ prior experience and expertise working on behavioral health and substance use disorders issues, we led the rigorous research and policy analysis and engaged Social Driver to create the digital platform.


In just a few short months, our team researched hundreds of policy proposals addressing mental health and substance use disorders, summarizing relevant findings in an accessible, easy-to-understand narrative. As the content was finalized, Social Driver developed and organized a user-friendly microsite to bring The Kennedy Forum’s vision to life. The microsite is not just a digital platform but also a strategic tool, aligning complex topics with an easy navigation interface that delivers specific recommendations based on topic, audience, or branch of government. During this time, Pyxis Partners, Social Driver, and The Kennedy Forum maintained frequent communication to keep the project moving and on track for the release date, October 3, 2023.


Pyxis Partners and Social Driver proudly delivered an easy-to-navigate, comprehensive website with concrete and actionable policy recommendations in time for The Kennedy Forum’s launch event for the Alignment for Progress. While the launch was important, what comes next is even more critical to the future of mental health and substance use disorders. We look forward to seeing how the National Strategy is implemented and how it inspires advocates seeking to drive change.

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