Huntsman family gives $150M to start mental health institute

The University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the University of Utah, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new mental health institute funded by a $150 million donation from the influential Huntsman family will focus on researching the genetic causes of the illnesses and provide more treatment to college students and rural residents, the University of Utah announced Monday.

The Huntsman Mental Health Institute will aim to provide research-based treatment and help fund the University of Utah Health’s psychiatry department, according to a news release.

The Huntsmans already have a major cancer research center in Utah that bears the family name. The late Jon Huntsman Sr. was the founder of a company that refines raw materials that go into thousands of products.

His adult children said at a news conference that they hope the institute helps change the stigma and misperceptions about mental health.

“Every family deals with mental health. We have either held the hand of somebody or had our hand held by somebody dealing with mental health,” Christena Huntsman Durham, vice chairwoman of the Huntsman Foundation, said in a Deseret News report. “We are so excited to put a name and a face to it and start addressing real issues and stop the judgment.”

The donation, which will be given over 15 years, is the largest single gift ever given to the university, University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said.

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