Igniting a movement around mental health

Anyone who has worked in health care for more than a decade will remember the “100,000 Lives” campaign. Launched about 10 years ago, it was a bold initiative to tackle alarming rates of patient deaths and harm due to preventable medical errors in hospitals.

The campaign established a burning platform and inspired providers from coast to coast to adopt best practices for keeping patients safe. While health care still has a ways to go to eliminate harmful errors, the initiative sparked a passion for safety and quality that continues to propel us today.

It also remains a great example of how to ignite a transformational movement in health care. Imagine if we applied that same energy and enthusiasm to another critical issue: the nation’s growing mental health crisis.

That is exactly what we are working on now at Providence St. Joseph Health, our new organization that combines Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health. Every community served by Providence and St. Joseph has identified mental health as a critical priority. That is why we are making mental health a cornerstone of our new organization.

A time for bold thinking

We are blessed to be able to infuse the bold thinking and leadership of Maureen Bisognano into our mental health effort. Maureen was a driving force behind the 100,000 Lives campaign and other transformative innovations from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where she served as president and CEO for many years before retiring at the end of 2015.

Maureen now serves as the chair of our advisory council on mental health and wellness. It has been a delight and inspiration to work with her and see her spring into action. She has been instrumental in helping us get organized so that we can identify the most effective set of actions that will have the biggest impacts in our communities. She is also tapping into experts at Providence St. Joseph Health and across the country to get their best thinking on solutions to mental health challenges.

Our five strategic priorities

Since we announced the creation of the Institute for Mental Health and Wellness in July, one of the first steps we’ve taken is to identify our key areas of focus. We have established five strategic priorities:

  1. Eliminate the stigma of mental health and ease access to care
  2. Build resilience in children, teens and families
  3. Reduce suffering from depression, anxiety and social isolation
  4. Reduce substance abuse
  5. Create hope for people with serious persistent mental illness

You’ll hear more about the development of our new institute in the coming weeks and months. You’ll also learn about other organizations and agencies that will partner with us on this cause. In the meantime, please mark your calendars for Oct. 12 when Maureen will join us for a panel discussion on the future of mental health in our communities. You’ll receive more information soon on how you can tune into the live discussion. Note: This post has been updated to include video of Maureen’s keynote.

You can also join an initial effort to destigmatize mental illness by following our mental health myth vs. fact campaign on social media and in our newsletters through mid-October.

All of us are touched in some way by mental illness. Either we personally struggle with it or know someone who is. Yet the lack of funding and coordination of vital mental health resources in this country remains a travesty.  Together, we can do something about it. As we saw with the 100,000 Lives campaign, it is possible to inspire a movement that can transform health care and create hope for individuals and families throughout our communities.

7 Comments
  1. It is exciting to see leadership taking a stand against persistent denial of the pervasive problem of mental illness (including addiction) in our society.

    There was a day not long ago when breast cancer held a stigma that impeded patients from seeking treatment, and the same with AIDS.

    Against the tide of compliancy surrounding these two diseases, leadership emerged committing human and financial resources to mobilize public opinion. Armed with the truth in the face of fear and stigma, the coffers opened for public and private research and treatment.

    I would love to see our collective health system see that same cycle of success beginning with dismantling the stigma around mental illness.

  2. How might I communicate with Maureen Bisognano? For the past 22 years, I have been the executive director of the Saint John’s Child & Family Development Center – an outpatient community mental health clinic; and I would love to share my team’s knowledge. Rebecca R. Refuerzo, LCSW, BCD