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Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health

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America faces a mental health crisis. Problems with mental health care preceded the pandemic, but over the past two years we've seen these problems grow into a crisis as young people were more likely to die from deaths of despair than from COVID-19.

This presentation describes the path to solve this mental health crisis. Dr. Tom Insel says part of the solution involves fixing the care system—moving from a crisis-driven sick-care system to a comprehensive, continuous health-care system. Innovative technology will be part of this fix. So will innovative policy. But mental health is about more than mental health care. Insel says the path to mental health requires a focus on recovery defined by the 3 P's: people, place and purpose.

Join us as Insel urges that we reframe our approach to mental illness, recognizing that the problem is medical but the solutions are social, environmental and political.

About the Speaker

Tom lnsel, M.D., a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, has been a national leader in mental health research, policy and technology. From 2002–2015, Dr. Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). More recently, he led the Mental Health Team at Verily (2015–2017); co-founded Mindstrong Health (2017–2019), a start-up building tools for people with serious mental illness; and served as a special advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom (2019), helping on behavioral health issues. In 2020, he co-founded Humanest Care, a therapeutic online community for recovery. He currently serves on the boards of Foundation for NIH, Fountain House, Schaeffer Center for Health Policy, and the Steinberg Institute (chairing it from 2019–2022), as well as being an advisor to several mental health start-ups (including Alto Neuroscience, Cerebral, Compass Pathways, Owl Insights, Koa Health, Valera Health). He is the author of Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health (Penguin Random House, 2022). With journalist co-founders, he recently launched MindSite News, a nonprofit digital publication focused on mental health issues. Dr. Insel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous national and international awards including honorary degrees in the U.S. and Europe. More info at his website.

MLF Organizer
Patrick O'Reilly

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

• We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
• All guests, staff, and volunteers must be fully vaccinated. Guest must show proof of full vaccination with photo I.D.
• Masks are encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
• In-person capacity is limited.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our programs.

A Psychology Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Tue, May 31 / 5:30 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States


Tom lnsel

M.D., Psychiatrist; Neuroscientist; Author, Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health

Patrick O'Reilly

Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist; Assistant Clinical Professor, UC San Francisco; Chair, Member-Led Psychology Forum—Moderator


5 p.m. doors open & check-in
5:30–6:30 p.m. program
(all times PDT)


Free for members
$10 nonmembers
Free for members
$5 nonmembers