THE POWER OF POLICY
Hannah Maniates grew up in a small Pennsylvania town that, like many rural areas, struggled with job loss, drug epidemics, and limited access to health care.
“I saw firsthand how economic conditions and access to resources can directly shape health outcomes,” Maniates says, “and how my family’s privilege protected us from the issues that many of our neighbors were facing.”
Driven to better understand the behavioral health issues she had seen growing up, Maniates studied neuroscience at college, and worked at a lab that investigated the neural circuits underlying addiction. After graduation, she joined the National Center for PTSD, a clinical research center at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, she continued to be drawn to the broader economic, political, and social structures that so often lead to mental health and substance use problems.
With a desire to better understand how policy impacts health, Maniates took a job at Boston’s Office of Recovery Services, the city agency focused on substance use. There, she contributed to the city’s efforts to increase access to harm reduction and treatment services, and promote public health approaches to substance use policy at the national and local levels.
Maniates hopes to make an even larger impact through her training at the Bloomberg School.
“Policy has an incredible potential to improve people’s lives,” she says. “I ultimately hope to work in behavioral health policy with the goal of building more accessible and equitable treatment systems, promoting diversion from the justice system, and increasing access to housing and economic opportunities.”