Learn more about mental and public health awareness and how you can help by reading our healthcare blog posts from industry leaders.
Don Hevey Receives EveryDayMatters Lifetime Achievement Award
The EveryDayMatters Foundation, a 501c3 created by Netsmart, is very pleased to honor Don Hevey, who is retiring as President and CEO of MHCA. Netsmart Executive Vice President Kevin Scalia presented Don with the EveryDayMatters Lifetime Achievement Award at the MHCA Winter Meeting in Clearwater, FL, today, Feb. 21. The EveryDayMatters Foundation honored Don for his many years of dedicated service to MHCA and the behavioral healthcare field.
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Don leaves MHCA after founding it 28 years ago and building it to 128 members in 31 states. Under Don’s strong leadership, MHCA is a key avenue for its members to gain critical knowledge and build strategies needed in a fast-changing healthcare environment. Netsmart, and the EveryDayMatters Foundation, are long-time supporters of MHCA’s mission and goals. Don has also shared his knowledge as a presenter at many strategic conferences and events. Best wishes, Don!
Suicide Intervention: It All Starts with Measurement
In a recent study of seven mental health centers, participants were asked to summarize the number of suicide attempts and hospitalizations due to suicide at each of their locations. Only two organizations could provide that data. It seems odd, perhaps tragic, that so few organizations tracked this important indicator. Of all the things we do in this industry, this seems to be one of the few things we should track religiously.
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We know we can have an impact on suicide attempts and hospitalizations, but before we can do anything, we have to measure it. There is an old adage that states: what gets measured gets done. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of suicidal risk. So, what should we measure? Well, if we just started with counting the number of suicide attempts and hospitalizations due to suicidal attempts or ideation, we would be off to a good start. Why is it that we don't measure this to begin with? Have we become so accustomed to suicide that we now think of it as the cost of doing business?
And why is it that we don't talk more about our ability to impact suicide in the United States? When asked about what we do as professionals, we frequently discuss clinical interventions and populations, and as we do, most in the general public get that glazed over look as they listen to us. As an industry, we don't begin discussions about what we do to keep people from killing themselves. Why not? I know statistically that its small number of people who will kill themselves compared to the number of people we treat, but it is a topic that is important to the public. Communications such as these can go a long way to improving our public perception.
Speaking of small populations, there is one special population whose suicide rate continues to startle all of us. We have all heard the statistic that more Americans have died by their own hands then have died in combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to the Associated Press, in the month of July 2012, 37 American soldiers died due to hostile fire in Afghanistan and 56 died of suicide. While the numbers are not large compared to the number of people who kill themselves in America each year, this continues to be a startling statistic. Why is that? The answers are not clear, but many speculate that stigma and fear of repercussions are contributing to the military suicide rate.
In the coming months my organization will be releasing more information regarding our 10,000 Minds Campaign. 10,000 Minds is our effort to decrease the suicide rate by 10,000 lives over the next two years. There is a wealth of information available from many sources about suicidal risk. We will provide guidance about what constitutes best practices in this area. But before we can even start hoping to have an impact on the number of people who die by their own hand, we have to start measuring how many people we are talking about.
A young lady comes in for an intake evaluation with her single and extremely flustered mother. The mother reports that her daughter will not get out of bed in the morning, has not gone to school for the past week and spends a significant amount of time crying in her room by herself. The therapist asks the tearful young lady during the intake process what she would name her depression. Expecting her to struggle in search for the answer, the therapist shows surprise when he hears the answer come back instantaneously; “joker blue,” she says, is his name. Wow, I expected you to have trouble coming up with a name; how did you come up with that name so fast?
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“He’s the sad joker,” she said as she looked down to the floor. What does the sad joker tell you to do? Keep the curtains pulled, stay inside, in bed and stay away from others. After a little more discussion, the young lady realized she was taking these instructions from a joker… She smiled, thanked the therapist for helping her to see from a different lens, that which was helping to hold her in her current sadness. This intake evaluation ended up as the only day in which the therapist and client would meet. This one meeting, this one day made a difference in the life of another... Likewise, the day she called merely to express, again, her appreciation months later, made a difference in the life of a therapist. Indeed, every day matters.
Could a greater miracle take place
than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant? - Henry David Thoreau
The stats are staggering.
I was thinking recently about the fact that one in four adults – approximately 57.7 million Americans – experience a mental health disorder in a given year while standing in line to pay at a local grocery store. While waiting, I counted 13 others also standing in line waiting to pay. Simple math tells me that 3.5 of us waiting to check out will experience a mental health disorder this year. That’s a very overwhelming thought…and reinforces to me why those that work in the health and human services community are so important.
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Within my circle of friends, there are several moms with children on ADHD medication. I have close relatives who have struggled with depression and alcoholism for the majority of their adult life. I have a friend whose daughter struggles daily with her battle against anorexia. Knowing the stats, it makes me stop and wonder why we don’t hear more about these struggles and the progress being made in the behavioral health community. Many people work day-in and day-out to help others take one day at a time in their quest for a healthier life. Besides helping each other, we need to talk…a lot. We need to talk about the success and the struggles. It’s not easy. Often people think mental health disorders should not be discussed…that’s part of the stigma. Talking will make it easier for people to understand just how many people, in one way or another, are truly a part of the behavioral health community.
National EveryDay Matters Day is April 16!
Thanks for visiting www.EveryDayMatters.com and being a part of the first annual National EveryDay Matters Day. I hope you read the stories, thoughts and ideas expressed here and are encouraged to share your own story of how EveryDay Matters to you. Together, we can start the conversation and erase the stigma about mental health.
What is National EveryDay Matters Day?
National EveryDay Matters Day was developed to build awareness, debunk stigma and encourage open and honest dialogue about mental health issues, as well as promoting the coordination of care between mental and physical health. The first annual celebration of the day will be Monday, April 16, 2012.
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What is Netsmart’s role in www.EveryDayMatters.com?
Netsmart sponsored the launch of www.EveryDayMatters.com to provide an online community for those who are cause-connected, passionate and vision driven about the opportunities in behavioral and public health. The site offers clinicians, practitioners, consumers and community members a place to share stories, celebrate successes, become enlightened and inspired, and debunk myths and stigma about mental health and public health issues. The site provides an interactive, informational forum to highlight the positive clinical and financial impacts provided by the behavioral and public health community.
While Netsmart sponsors the site – you’ll see that we don’t advertise or promote Netsmart services or solutions at all. It is truly an independent forum for education, interaction and information. We’re happy to host the site and promote it but that’s our only role. www.EveryDayMatters.com belongs to you.
How can I help?
The National Institute of Mental Health says that one in four adults, approximately 57.7 million Americans, experience a mental health disorder in a given year. We are asking everyone to share www.EveryDayMatters.com with at least four other people to offer the site as a resource and outlet for someone who might benefit and feel a connection to the movement.
Click on the link below to request your free green www.EveryDayMatters.com wristband. It’s a great potential conversation starter and a reminder of the opportunity that is all around us.
Let’s erase the stigma and encourage open and honest dialogue about mental health issues. Together, we can be inspired and enlightened, ask questions, share opinions, eliminate barriers and celebrate successes! Thanks for joining the movement. Please share your story and spread the word that EveryDay Matters!
Did you know that one in six boys experiences some form of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 16? And while child sexual abuse is reported more than 80-thousand times a year, the numbers of unreported cases are much greater because children are afraid to tell. It’s a difficult subject to talk about and yet, recent news stories suggest talking is the best way to release the stigma and let children know it’s OK to tell.
“So often men are expected to be the protector and the strong one and little boys are taught that’s going to be their role,” says Ken Followell. “And what happens is the predators who groom not only the young boy, but the family, build up trust and once they’ve established that trust, they tell the boy that no one’s going to believe you.”
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Ken Followell, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is one of those who is helping bring a voice to children and adults who’ve experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. He runs a support group for male survivors of abuse at Manatee Glens, the specialty hospital and outpatient practice in Bradenton, FL.
He says there are three steps parents can take to protect a child against a predator.
- Have an understanding that sexual abuse of boys actually happens.
- Trust yourself, if you’re seeing something that isn’t right you need to speak up.
- Have that difficult conversation with your child. Tell them it’s their body and no one has the right to touch you.
Followell is also the president of malesurvivor.org
a national organization that offers support, education and advocacy for male survivors of sexual abuse. He says finding recovery after the trauma of sexual abuse is possible but life after abuse is never the same.
“Everything that happens in our life, we can choose how we’re going to take it and what we’re going to do with it,” he says. “We can get through terrible things and have joy and health and new opportunities we wouldn’t have had without it.”
"The Times They Are A-Changin..." - Bob Dylan
There has probably never been a time of greater change in the healthcare industry than now.
Politically, the introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has led to significant changes both in terms of health care policy and reimbursement, but also by stimulating the adoption of Electronic Health Records. This will force many organizations to finally move off of paper to electronic systems. Change is never easy. Clinically, the types and numbers of treatments that are known to be effective continue to increase and providers are being held to increasingly higher levels of clinical accountability. Financially, the US economy is in the doldrums. State budgets are being slashed and, often, the least able among us are forced to shoulder the burden of these cuts.
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Through all this change, one constant I’ve observed has been the commitment of people working in the behavioral health and public health industries. Let’s face it, these are not the highest paying nor the “sexiest” branches of health care. So, clinical professionals who work with these very difficult clients have always impressed me. Sure, we all know health care is about helping others but let’s be candid here, some work is harder than others. Helping people with chronic disabilities can be among the most difficult. This is true regardless of whether the disability is physical or mental. To hang in there day-after-day when progress is slow, relapses are frequent and financial resources to do what needs to be done are lacking, would task even the most dedicated care provider. But that’s exactly what we see in our industry – people helping others with a level of commitment and positive attitude that would shock even Norman Vincent Peale. The people working in our industry are amazing.
Early in the recovery movement, there was a saying that what people with serious mental illness wanted was “a home, a job and a date on Saturday night.” I sure hope that’s not all they want. Worse, I think it misses the point. What people want is to be able to live their lives under their own terms. We’re all going to have more control, and therefore more power, over our own healthcare. But, as Spiderman was warned, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So too it is with our own healthcare.
The tradeoff for autonomy is responsible decision making. All forms of sickness carry varying levels of denial with them. People with other chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and asthma can and do make bad decisions about their health. But what happens if the organ responsible for decision making is impaired, as is the case in behavioral health? Then it’s the responsibility of that person to make appropriate preparations ahead of time. For that reason, I’d like to see psychiatric advanced directives used and recognized more by attending providers. Families can help with this, but it’s really the provider community that has to come to grips with the myriad of changes coming their way.
Personally, I believe the NBT (Next Big Thing) will be Personal Health Records (PHR) that will comprehensively summarize our health care and is available on demand to both the patient and the provider. Unfortunately, despite a number of attempts, PHRs are still not quite ready for prime time. When they are ready, information will be available to us virtually, wherever we are.
I was fortunate to attend TEDMED 2011 last year and heard a wonderful presentation by Tom Goetz, Executive Editor of Wired Magazine. Check it out at http://www.tedmed.com/videos
. His presentation was titled It's Time To Redesign Medical Data. It’s worth watching. He challenges us to think present, in this case, lab data, in a way that makes it more actionable to the folks who can do something about it – consumers. He suggested that there are four questions everyone one of us should ask when we are seeing a healthcare provider:
- Can I have my results?
- What does this mean?
- What are my options?
- What next?
That last question, “What Next” is really the big question for us all. Though we know a lot about the changes coming, a lot is still up in the air. Also, it’s unknown how these changes will affect us. I am a firm believer that we’re smarter together than any one of us is individually. That is part of the reason the EveryDayMatters
website was created - to communicate about what’s working, what’s not and what ideas you have, especially the ones that others think are “off the wall”. Think of this as an informal learning community for people who are passionate, creative and committed to those we serve.
What are you doing to change the way healthcare is delivered? How do we finally rid society of the terrible stigma around mental illness and addiction? You may not have answers but you sure have ideas and examples of things that have worked. Let’s hear them. With all the changes heading our way, we really do need to know…