World Mental Health Day: how HCA Healthcare is supporting the mental health needs of the communities we serve
Today, HCA Healthcare recognizes World Mental Health Day in an effort to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to share valuable resources in support of the mental health of our patients, colleagues and communities.
More than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has begun returning to some resemblance of normality. However, the pandemic and other notable events have had major impacts on mental health.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with mental illness. Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Two broad categories can be used to describe these conditions:
- Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder. In 2020, there were an estimated 52.9 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI.
- Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. In 2020, there were an estimated 14.2 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with SMI. This number represented 5.6% of all adults in the country.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
Behavioral Health Services
HCA Healthcare is committed to promoting mental wellness for all we are privileged to serve. With 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care across 20 states and the United Kingdom, HCA Healthcare utilizes knowledge and data from our more than 300,000 annual behavioral health patient encounters to make positive advances in patient care.
HCA Healthcare’s Behavioral Health services provide a purpose-driven network of inpatient, outpatient, pediatric, adult, geriatric and specialty services to meet the unique needs of each patient. With 61 inpatient programs and more than 160 outpatient programs across 17 states, we are proud to have one of the country’s most connected networks of behavioral health treatment centers.
Caring for our caregivers
In addition to caring for the mental health of our patients, we have increased essential access to mental wellness resources and support for our colleagues through a variety of programs, including Nurse Care, a unique, free, and confidential mental health program for the needs of HCA Healthcare hospital-based nurses. The resource is available 24/7 to help nurses manage anxiety, balance their work and life responsibilities, practice self-care, and handle common nursing-related issues.
We are proud to partner with leading community organizations to combat the current mental health crisis impacting our communities because mental health is health. Learn more about our partnerships below…
Girl Scouts of the USA
The HCA Healthcare Foundation has a history of supporting Girl Scouts – first in 1998 with the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee council, which was one of the Foundation’s first class of grants to Middle Tennessee organizations. In 2017, the Foundation was an inaugural supporter of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee’s Troop 6000, an initiative that serves girls experiencing homelessness and is modeled after similar troops nationwide.
In May 2022, the HCA Healthcare Foundation announced plans to donate $1.38 million over the next three years to Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to create a series of workshops aimed at addressing mental wellness among girls. The curriculum strives to help girls better understand mental wellness and provide them with skills to strengthen their resilience and support their peers.
In collaboration with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the HCA Healthcare Foundation’s grant will support Girl Scouts’ Mental Health 101 workshops, consisting of Getting to Know Your Emotions for fourth through fifth graders, Finding Your Voice for sixth through eighth graders, and its Peer Support workshop for ninth through twelfth graders.
Volunteers of America
In August 2022, HCA Healthcare announced a $600,000 grant to Volunteers of America (VOA) through the HCA Healthcare Foundation and its Healthier Tomorrow Fund to promote mental wellness and resilience among first responders. Through this contribution, VOA has scaled its VOA|ReST 4 First Responders program in targeted areas served by HCA Healthcare, such as HealthONE in Denver, Medical City Healthcare in Dallas-Fort Worth and HCA Florida Healthcare.
VOA has been providing support to military veterans through the Shay Moral Injury Center’s evidence-based Resilience Strengthen Training™ (RST) program since 2017. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VOA adapted the program for frontline healthcare workers to process moral distress and maintain resilience and commitment to their work. The VOA|ReST 4 First Responders program is an online, one-hour small group process led by a trained peer specialist to address the experience of workplace stress and trauma.
With the support of the Healthier Tomorrow grant, VOA has launched a national campaign and peer support service to help an expanded group of First Responders – including fire, police, EMT personnel, hospital and emergency staff – process experiences of moral distress and burnout.
HCA Healthcare and Psych Hub, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry, partnered to create a 10-episode podcast series called “You Ask, We Answer” to provide a forum for mental health education and encourage dialogue without stigma. Each of the mental health topics are ones that people often search online for information.
The world’s most comprehensive multimedia platform for mental health education, Psych Hub was developed to help people overcome mental health challenges through courses, videos, podcasts, and written and shareable content.
HCA Healthcare is proud to collaborate with EVERFI, an international technology company driving social change through education. Our collaboration helps deliver the Understanding Mental Wellness digital course that builds awareness and empathy, helps reduce stigma and provides facts about the symptoms and prevalence of mental health conditions.
Since its launch in October 2020, more than 126,000 students at nearly 600 schools have been reached by the Understanding Mental Wellness course.
The Jason Foundation
Since 2013, HCA Healthcare and The Jason Foundation have partnered to provide education to our communities about youth suicide. We now have 13 HCA Healthcare affiliate offices across the nation. These offices serve as hubs where parents, teachers, guidance counselors, students, churches and other community organizations can obtain educational materials and learn about training programs available through The Jason Foundation.
Suicide and suicide attempts are serious health concerns, causing significant emotional and physical impacts. One of the best ways to prevent suicide and help end the stigma that surrounds it is by starting a discussion.
As we recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Month this past September, HCA Healthcare hosted an open and honest conversation between Dr. Frank Drummond, our organization’s medical director of behavioral health, and Clark Flatt, the president and founder of The Jason Foundation.
“The biggest danger is the lack of awareness of the impact of suicide on our communities – not to be scared but to be knowledgeable,” said Flatt, who has dedicated his life to suicide and sharing tools and resources to help identify and assist at-risk youth.
The statistics are alarming:
- More than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year in the world
- 12.2 million adults ages 18 or older in the U.S. had serious thoughts about suicide in 2020
- 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide in 2020
Young people – especially adolescents – have been a vulnerable group when it comes to the national public health concern of suicide. Suicide has been the second leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10-24 for several years. Additionally, it continues to be a leading cause of death in 10-14-year-olds and one of the leading causes of death in older teens and young adults.
Some mental health experts speculate that these numbers will increase when new statistics are released that capture the extensive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grief of losing loved ones, isolation from friends and family, anxiety about lockdowns, returning to work, and “business as usual” have all impacted mental health.
With the pressures of returning to school and young, impressionable kids increasing their use of social media, some experts warn parents, youth leaders and peers to be even more vigilant in monitoring the mental health of youth. The good news is that suicide is often preventable.
The Jason Foundation’s origin and mission
The unexpected happened to Flatt on July 16, 1997 – his teenage son named Jason committed suicide. He took the heart-breaking experience and founded the Jason Foundation in hopes of raising awareness about the youth suicide epidemic.
In the video below, he shares the mission of his nonprofit over the past 25 years.
How to talk to youth about suicide
If someone you know or love may be considering suicide, you can be the difference in helping provide the help they need. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it could save a life.
Below, Dr. Drummond and Flatt discuss strategies to start difficult conversations in this space and offer support to those in need.
Suicide prevention: A Jason Foundation success story
For the past 25 years, The Jason Foundation has been working to help empower youth, educators and parents to recognize when young people are in pain and know how to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Flatt shares a success story as a result of The Jason Foundation’s student curriculum.
Recognizing suicide warning signs
Suicide is rarely caused by a single circumstance or event. Instead, a range of factors can increase the risk. If someone you know or love is at risk for suicide, it is important to watch out for warning signs.
- Previous suicide attempt
- History of depression or other mental illness
- Criminal/legal problems
- Job/financial problems or loss
- Substance misuse
- Sense of hopelessness
- Loss of relationships
- Social isolation
- Talking about being a burden
- Being isolated
- Increased anxiety
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Expressing hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Making plans for suicide
Seeking emergency mental health support
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, reaching out for support is one of the bravest things you can do. Now, there’s an easier way to find help with a phone call, a text or a live chat.
Free, confidential suicide and crisis counseling are available 24/7 through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).
People in crisis and their loved ones can connect with trained counselors by:
- Calling or texting 988
- Using the live chat feature at 988Lifeline.org
- Calling the previous National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1.800.273.8255 (1.800.273.TALK), which remains active
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About HCA Healthcare
HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.
As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.