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Shatterproof and the Elevance Health Foundation Partner to Reduce Stigma Around Substance Use Disorder

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Amid growing racial and ethnic disparities in overdose mortality, national nonprofit Shatterproof is teaming up with the Elevance Health Foundation — the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health, Inc.— to develop and design an intervention that reduces addiction stigma in the healthcare community, particularly those in the Latinx/a/o community. The project will reach approximately 3,000 healthcare professionals across the country to ensure patients are treated with dignity and open minds when they seek treatment. The $5.4 million dollar investment will address stigma and discrimination as a primary barrier people face when seeking treatment and encounter throughout recovery.

The purpose of this project is to reduce addiction-related stigma among healthcare providers through an educational training program, with a core focus on improving outcomes for marginalized communities in the U.S. These communities include people who experience prejudice, bias and injustice and who are underserved, oppressed, excluded and/or receive suboptimal care in the healthcare system. The project is particularly important given that the 2021 Shatterproof Addiction Stigma Index, a first-of-its-kind tool designed to assess levels of stigma and developed in conjunction with The Hartford, showed that healthcare professionals had similar levels of public and structural stigma toward those with a substance use disorder compared to the general population.

“We know that significant disparities in health care access exist among Latinx/a/o communities. That coupled with a lack of access to medical care, language barriers, lack of insurance, and multi-fold impacts from the pandemic shows a vast need for education and awareness of the growing addiction crisis in our country,” said Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “With funding provided by the Elevance Health Foundation combined with Shatterproof’s proven training methods, we will help prepare a new wave of healthcare professionals to address this critical shortfall.”

The Elevance Health Foundation and Shatterproof will work over a three-year period to reach healthcare professionals across a range of specialties and settings. Shatterproof will train these medical professionals on how stigmatizing attitudes toward patients with substance use disorders may negatively impact outcomes and how to reduce said stigma in patient interactions, specifically in interactions with Latinx/a/o communities. Given the incredible diversity of these communities, the training will be developed through the lenses of health equity and cultural humility.

“Today, one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year, and substance use disorder affects more than 40 million Americans age 12 and over. While the numbers of people experiencing mental health and substance use disorders are staggering, stigma often prevents individuals and many communities from seeking the help they need,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer, Elevance Health. “By acknowledging the physical, behavioral and social drivers of health as they relate to substance use disorders, the Elevance Health Foundation — along with Shatterproof — is positioned to provide meaningful solutions in achieving better health and advancing health equity.”

The investment from the Elevance Health Foundation is part of a larger commitment of $30 million to substance use disorder. Each program the foundation invests in will focus on one of the following goals: prevention and early intervention of risk factors that lead to substance use disorders, improved access and quality of treatment to reduce morbidity and mortality of those with substance use disorders, and community support to promote lifelong recovery.

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