Smiley Movement logo

Ex-Microsoft CEO aids mental health care

Words by Smiley Team

Tackling the pandemic’s toll on mental health in the US population, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie have announced a $38 million grant to bolster ailing mental health services in Washington state through their philanthropic organisation Ballmer Group.

The grant will be split, with nearly $35 million going to education, apprenticeships and training for mental health professionals; and $3.2 million for improving existing mental health services and employing more professionals in the field.

“This is the pandemic within the pandemic, happening across our country,” wrote Connie Ballmer, “and as we slowly recover from one of the most challenging years in recent memory, we see an opportunity to build a system that addresses every community’s behavioral health needs.”


Putting minds at ease in a time of Covid-19

This well-needed support comes after the Washington State Department of Health estimated that as much as 45 per cent of the state’s population could experience significant mental health issues after Covid-19 cases rose this autumn. Across the US, mental health focused emergency room visits for children under 18 increased by up to 31 per cent since last April.

“These realities are compounded for communities of color, for whom the same inequities that plague every American institution apply in our behavioral health system, which is designed to cater to wealthy white people and communities,” said Connie Ballmer.

“Further issues of stigma, complicated and limited access to services, and a fundamental lack of system capacity to meet the growing need are woven throughout our current behavioral health infrastructure.”

Acknowledging the strain on the US mental health system, Connie added: “This is just the beginning. It will take time for our workforce to grow and for our system to adapt – and workforce capacity is far from the only solution needed. 

“It is critical for us all to understand problems facing our state’s behavioral health infrastructure, and to continue investing in solutions that benefit every Washingtonian. We know there is so much more that needs to be done, and we are grateful for and excited to join leaders across the state in getting to work.”


Tackling the nation’s inequality

Since 2014, Steve Ballmer has increased his philanthropy, channeling over $2 billion into the Ballmer Group, a donor-advised fund with a focus on improving life for disadvantaged Americans. The foundation supports community-led initiatives, nonprofits and means of measuring progress towards reducing poverty. Their work confronts the systemic racism limiting economic opportunities for communities of colour, by supporting such groups.

For more information about the Ballmer Group visit



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…