Here’s a story of hope: of a mother and a scientist, united in their fight against mental illness and opioid addiction, and how innovative treatment journeys from an idea, to seed funding, to lives saved.

Our Goal: $125,000 by December 31, 2020

Investing in our Annual Fund today means continued breakthrough research across all mental illnesses for generations to come.

Many thanks to our community partner and Annual Fund presenting sponsor  .

We’ve made conquering mental illness our life’s work.

Every researcher hopes their ideas will lead to breakthrough discoveries. But without funding, those ideas often go nowhere. In truth, it doesn’t take much to get a research project off the ground—a relatively small initial investment can, with subsequent funding, have an extraordinary trajectory.

It’s called a seed grant. It’s how we fund the research and treatment of mental illness—and it’s also how we are ushering in a Season of Hope.

Together, we’ll create endless opportunities for tremendous impact.

Researchers propose groundbreaking studies by applying for a FOH seed grant.

Your generous dollars become seed funding for mental illness research projects rigorously vetted and approved by our esteemed Scientific Advisory Committee.

Over a three-year period, researchers use our seed funding for studies that catalyze innovations. This sets the stage for additional grant funding. That initial study data leads to larger and more expansive research studies, multiplying and leveraging our initial seed grant into extraordinary growth.

Research results advance discoveries in diagnosis, prevention, and improved treatments for mental illness, thus saving thousands of lives.

Meet Zoe McElligott, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies

The Need

Mental illness and addiction are deeply connected – 9.2 million adults with a mental illness also struggle with substance abuse. The prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) continues to grow exponentially due to the global opioid epidemic. Currently, the best treatments for OUD are other opioids, which maintains drug dependence and has a high rate of relapse. Clinicians desperately need new therapies to alleviate the physical, mental, and emotional trauma of withdrawal.

The Work

Withdrawal from opioids can have long lasting effects on anxiety and sleep. Thanks to the generosity of Foundation of Hope donors, Dr. McElligott received $50,000 in seed money to investigate using the FDA-approved compound oxytocin to ease the physical withdrawal symptoms, sleep disturbances, and other behaviors. Medications like this could reduce the need for opioid replacement therapy and translate rapidly into a clinical setting.

The Growth

In just 10 months, Dr. McElligott and her team collected promising results which led to a $2 million grant from another funding agency to further uncover how opioid withdrawal affects the areas of the brain involved in alertness, arousal, and readiness for action. This is HOPE. Your support allows researchers like Dr. McElligott to continue finding treatments and solutions for millions of individuals and their family members impacted by opioid addiction.

Meet Ashley

Mother, wife, addiction survivor.

I tried to quit many times, but couldn’t do it on my own.

My anxiety and depression started in high school. I isolated myself and just wanted to be left alone. Once I got to college, my anxiety worsened, and I had a panic attack my first week of classes. I went to a psychiatrist, who proceeded to prescribe me Xanax. I learned fairly quickly that if I had a feeling that I didn’t like, I could just numb it away. I also suffered an injury and rapidly became dependent on the narcotics I was prescribed. Then when I couldn’t access them anymore, I used other substances to survive another day and avoid withdrawal – which only made my addiction more severe and debilitating.

For years I spiraled out of control. I overdosed three times in one month (only God knows why I’m still here), ruined my relationships with friends, family and anyone else who cared about me, stole from my family, and ultimately became Hurricane Ashley, leaving devastation wherever I went.

Opioid addiction consumed my life, separated me from my family and caused all of us years of pain and suffering. I had no hope for my future.

After 10 years of living in addiction, I finally found hope five years ago when I entered the UNC Horizons substance abuse program for women. There, treatment saved my life. I’m now able to be a successful mother, professional, and student, and am dedicated to helping others seeking recovery from addiction.

Overcoming substance abuse is more complex than just quitting taking drugs. The Foundation of Hope’s research shines a light on the science of mental illness and addiction, and their work truly saves lives. They really care about people like me, which gives all those on the recovery journey hope for their future. Now, I’m more than just a number — I am a survivor.

Read Ashley’s full Changemaker story.

Our goal: $125,000 by December 31, 2020

It’s a lofty goal, but it will help make up the shortfall we’re experiencing from cancelling our Evening of Hope Gala. And we’re kicking it off with an incredible gift: $15,000 from CPI Security. They were the planned presenting sponsor for the gala, and graciously pivoted with us to support our Annual Fund instead.

Now, we need your help to accelerate innovation and create endless possibilities.

The time is now. The need is critical.

Stories like Ashley’s and Dr. McElligott’s are just the beginning of what’s possible. Together, we’ll turn a season of despair into a Season of Hope for all those impacted by mental illness.