December 18, 2023 by Taylor Walsh As part of an extraordinary year-long national effort to address the discouraging state of the nation’s mental health the Kennedy Forum has initiated several major collaborations, notably the Alignment for Progress (AFP), a national strategy to move policy to support serious improvement in mental health and substance use programs. AFP numbers many of the nation’s most important health and mental healthcare and policy champions as partners. Along with others WholeHealthED has signed on as a “Commitment Maker” in line with our focus on strengthening children’s wellbeing and resilience during their school years: WholeHealthED commits to developing school models that embed well-established school-based whole health learning activities – in garden, nutrition, mindfulness, cognition bolstering PE and outdoor learning – whose outcomes have been shown to mitigate the impact of stress, ACEs, negative social determinants, and trauma that underlie the child and adolescent mental health crisis, which we argue should raise Wellbeing to peer status with Math and Language Arts as essential for the resilient, well-rounded education children will need to succeed in the 21st century.” (The most current list of organizations participating on several levels is here at the AFP page.) School-Based Mental Health Council As part of the Alignment for Progress, the Kennedy Forum has also established a School-Based Mental Health Council (SBMHC) to focus on child and adolescent mental health. Significantly for this effort the Forum in early December announced a substantial, multi-year grant from Pivotal Ventures, a philanthropy of Melinda French Gates for support of its expansive mental health advocacy and policy initiatives, which includes “a robust schedule of stakeholder working groups focusing on school-based services.” Youth Mental Health Handbook for the Nation’s Governors Earlier this year the Forum also helped the National Governor’s Association develop and distribute Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook The Playbook was developed with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy who was chair of the NGA during much of 2023, and reflected policy and program elements adopted in New Jersey.