It was another beautiful summer in New Albany.

If you looked around, you likely would have seen cyclists training for Pelotonia, runners heading up and down the miles of paved trails, children biking and walking to the New Albany Country Club or the Plain Township Aquatic Center, or a lot full of cars at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany. New Albany residents are on a mission to become the healthiest community in America.

But look deeper still and you might see parents attending one of several community well-being forums, students interacting with a Golden Globe Award-winning actress or teachers and school administrators sporting E+R=O wrist bands. As part of becoming the healthiest community in America, New Albany also is focused on mental health and well-being.

One way the New Albany Community Foundation has shared in this vision is through the Jefferson Series community lectures. Starting with Mariel Hemingway in 2015, students and adults from all around central Ohio have had the opportunity to meet with, interact and listen to respected mental health and addiction advocates, including Patrick Kennedy, Elizabeth Vargas and Glenn Close.

The 2019-20 season will continue that trend with mental-health advocate and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, will speak May 7, 2020; his public lecture sold out in an hour. Since his retirement from competing, Phelps has become a metal-health advocate, freely sharing about his struggles with depression and substance abuse.

Although the community foundation has focused on mental health for several years through the Jefferson Series and the New Albany Well-Being Initiative, its efforts are poised to grow through the establishment of a new foundation fund, the Well-Being Connection Fund.

The purpose of this new fund is to develop and support resources within our community focused on prevention, access, intervention and recovery from mental-health conditions and addiction.

If you would like to join the foundation and the community in our efforts to become the healthiest community in America, end the stigma surrounding mental-health issues and address mental health and addiction head on, please contact me at or go to

Dr. Keith Berend is chairman of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees.