May 1, 2023

The importance of mental health and how Landmark can help

Every May, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.

By: Rose Sandoval, MSN, RN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, BHC

Every May, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time, it is important to remember the pioneers that brought Mental Health Awareness Month to the public eye.

A pioneer of mental health reform

Clifford Whittingham Beers is considered a pioneer of mental health reform, launching an organization called the National Committee for Mental Hygiene in 1909. By 1950, it came to be known as Mental Health America, after it merged with the National Mental Health Foundation and the Psychiatric Foundation. In Clifford’s own family, four of the six brothers had mental illnesses. He also had firsthand experience with psychiatric hospitalizations.

Clifford’s family story may sound familiar to many. According to Mental Health of America, between the years 2019–2020, about 21% of adults experienced a mental illness. That is equal to over 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5 adults. Over half (54.7%) of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 28 million individuals.

Mental health care is health care

Landmark Health’s behavioral health team plays a very important role in providing services to those whose are experiencing a behavioral health condition 24/7 as a part of the organization’s larger medical, behavioral health and social care support programs.

Services are offered by medical social workers, licensed clinical social workers in the Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM) role, and advanced practice clinicians specializing in mental health in the Behavioral Health Consultant (BHC) role. It is through this joint effort of various specialties that Landmark patients are best served. The behavioral health team makes decisions which aim to stabilize the patient’s behavioral health and address social issues, thereby eliminating a potential need for time in the hospital.

How Landmark Health’s behavioral health consultants helped “Mr. H”

Mr. H is a 62-year-old with multiple chronic medical conditions as well as depression and anxiety. He was evaluated by one of Landmark’s Behavioral Health consultants who discovered that Mr. H had recently verbalized suicidal thoughts while intoxicated. He had been taking fluoxetine to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, but he appeared to have a relapse in management of his condition. In combination with his Landmark longitudinal provider, it was decided that involving additional behavioral health team members was going to give Mr. H the help that he needed. Behavioral Health Care Manager Melissa M Gonzalez, LCSW and Behavioral Health Consultant Rose Sandoval, MSN, RN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC provided him with additional behavioral health support to manage this recent increase in symptoms and address his use of alcohol. The behavioral health team provided a combination of brief behavioral health therapeutic interventions and medication management.

Grandparents in the kitchen with arms raised

Mr. H received education about his condition and was offered coping skills to manage his condition. Sandoval also provided a medication adjustment. During subsequent visits, Mr. H reported taking his medication daily and experiencing a significant improvement in his symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mr. H’s improvements show how the comprehensive behavioral health services provided by the behavioral health team support symptom reduction and improvement in the overall quality of life for Landmark patients.

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, let us not forget the pioneers who fought for changes in behavioral health care so that patients like Mr. H can live fulfilling lives. May we continue to provide a voice for those who are unable to speak up for themselves. In addition, let us not forget the families of the millions struggling with behavioral health issues.

*Patient name changed to protect patient identity.