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The Sozosei Foundation Reaches a Milestone Awards $4 Million to Decriminalize Mental Illness


The Sozosei Foundation Reaches a Milestone Awards $4 Million in Grants to Decriminalize Mental Illness

Princeton, NEW JERSEY (November 1, 2021) – The Sozosei Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Otsuka, has reached an important milestone in its grant-giving program to decriminalize mental illness. In 2021, the Foundation awarded $4 million in grants to 29 nonprofit organizations working to eliminate the inappropriate use of jails and prisons for the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Grantees were selected through a competitive open call for proposals and funding is being deployed to organizations that are working on the four funding priorities that the Foundation established at its inaugural Sozosei Global Solution Lab. These four priorities are: the implementation of 9-8-8, increasing the size of the mental health workforce, scaling evidence-based and promising practices to decriminalize mental illness, and education about the Medicaid Reentry Act. “From national grassroots advocacy efforts to local demonstration projects, as well as podcasts, music festivals, and start-up news outlets focused on mental illness, these grants embody the Foundation’s core values of creativity and curiosity,” said Melissa M. Beck, Esq., Executive Director of the Sozosei Foundation. “Taken together, this portfolio represents promising strategies and solutions to decriminalize mental illness and provides the Foundation with exciting learning opportunities that we are eager to share with the field.”

“These grants are a notable contribution in the field of mental health philanthropy,” said Benjamin Miller, PsyD, president of Well Being Trust, an impact philanthropy dedicated to advancing the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation. “Sozosei Foundation’s laser-like focus on the issue of decriminalizing mental illness in the U.S. can be a game-changer for the field.”

"9-8-8 represents a time-sensitive, and potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve crisis intervention response and enhance access to care. However, there are many challenges in 9-8-8 implementation—most importantly, cost and a fractured or even non-existent crisis care continuum that must be firmly in place for 988 to work. This grant will help us in our endeavors to support 9-8-8.” Said Jennifer Cox, Ph.D., Associate Professor at The University of Alabama.

With Sozosei as their inaugural donor, Dr. Cox and Dr. Lauren Kois, Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama, founded the Southern Behavioral Health and Law Initiative, an interdisciplinary collaboration to promote equitable justice, improve outcomes for individuals at risk for involvement in the legal system, and support empirically based policy reform across the state. 2021 grant recipients include: • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) • Atlanta Fulton Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative • Clear Pathways • Healthy Brains Global Initiative • Inseparable • Legal Action Center • Lemonada Media • Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) • Miami Foundation for Mental Health • Mindful Philanthropy • MindSite News • Mural Arts Project • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) • National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors • National Council for Mental Wellbeing • OneFifteen Recovery • RAND Corporation • Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene (RFMH) • Richland County Sheriffs Foundation • Sound Mind Live • The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center • The Kennedy Forum • The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Abuse • The Steinberg Institute • The Trevor Project • The University of Alabama • Tradeoffs • University of Chicago Health Lab • Urban Health Media Project

The voices of many of these grantees can be heard at the upcoming 2nd Annual Sozosei Summit to Decriminalize Mental Illness from December 13-15, 2021 in Philadelphia. To learn more about the Summit and the Sozosei Foundation, please visit

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