Institute for Mental Health and Wellness sets priorities, hires chief executive

December 1, 2016


Providence St. Joseph Health has set the strategic direction for the new Institute for Mental Health and Wellness, laying out its initial priorities and hiring a chief executive. When Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health combined into the Providence St. Joseph Health system in July, that system made a $100 million commitment to begin the institute.


The institute has established five priorities. They are: eliminate the stigma of mental health and ease access to care; build resilience in children, teens and families; reduce suffering from depression, anxiety and social isolation; reduce substance abuse; and create hope for people with serious persistent mental illness. Dr. Rod Hochman, president and chief executive of Providence St. Joseph Health, outlined the priorities in a posting to employees this fall.

Providence St. Joseph Health said in November that Tyler Norris, an entrepreneur and executive with a background in population health and community well-being, will begin in January as the institute's chief executive. He expanded on the early development of the institute with Catholic Health World in a recent interview.

Norris most recently worked as vice president of Total Health Partnerships at Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente. He led the development of the nonprofit health system's anchor institution strategy, a plan to apply the organization's assets toward the "physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being of its members," according to his biography.

Maureen Bisognano, who had retired as president and chief executive of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, became the founding chair of the Institute for Mental Health and Wellness' advisory council. Work continues to identify candidates for membership on that council, Norris said.

Providence St. Joseph Health's development plan calls for the institute to mature into an independent foundation that will expand with the inclusion of other organizations, including health care systems, as well as philanthropic and community organizations. "In a way, it's incubated within Providence St. Joseph, but with a vision for it to become a collaborative with not only other Catholic health care organizations, but with like-minded organizations committed to serving communities," Norris said.

The institute will identify programs with demonstrated success in addressing its priorities. Those approaches will be further tested, refined and measured for effectiveness, he explained.

Part of the work will be making sure that a successful mental health program won't just be "a bright spot in a particular community," but that it also will be shared and spread across the nation.

Norris said Providence St. Joseph Health and Catholic health care's mission to serve the poor and vulnerable will shape the institute's work, which he hopes will provide a road map and inspiration for effective mental health education and care around the nation.

Norris, who holds a master's degree in divinity, envisions the institute's work as "explicitly addressing the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation by expanding access to care services and community support systems, as well as creating community conditions that give rise to human well-being and resilience.

"This is what all of health care can and should be doing," he said.


Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.