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Sutter Health, Mental Health America Develop Online Mental Health Support Tool

October 2, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Sutter Health, a health care system in Northern California, and Mental Health America (MHA) are collaborating on the development of online tools and resources that proactively address mental health concerns before they escalate. This collaboration is designed to provide earlier access and connect people with the support and services they need, the two organizations said.

One in five American adults, or more than 40 million Americans, are dealing with a mental health concern; however, 56 percent of adults don't receive treatment. Cost, lack of access or awareness, social prejudice and stigma prevent people from accessing the mental health care they need to treat concerns associated with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, addiction and schizophrenia.

“Together, Sutter Health and MHA are enabling people to access support services in a way that's convenient, safe, secure and confidential. By providing early screening and detection services through online channels, Sutter Health and MHA are expanding individuals' ability to understand their own mental health wherever and whenever they need it,” the organizations said in a press release.

With initial funding from Sutter Health, MHA is developing Screening-to-Supports (S2S), an online tool that connects people with the mental health support and services they want and need in real-time. This program will use technology to customize each person's results, and will offer support and services beyond what the original Screening Program MHA developed in 2014 offered.

Four domains of the new program include: 1) evidence-based mental health information tailored to someone's specific concerns; 2) links to online support, telehealth and face-to-face consults; 3) tools people can use on their own to develop coping skills and track concerns, and; 4) peer-to-peer community engagement mediums where people can connect and learn from others with similar experiences.

Secondly, Sutter Health will begin integrating National Certified Peer Specialists (NCPS) into their workforce. NCPS' are professionals certified by MHA with the highest levels of knowledge and skills to work in public and private mental health settings that can help bridge the gap on longstanding mental health workforce shortages.

The enhanced S2S platform will launch this fall. In addition to the online tool, Sutter Health and MHA will work together to develop an evidence-based workplace mental health strategy and a public education campaign to target suicide and self-harm. The campaign will reach Northern California communities first, with the intent to develop a strategy that could take the campaign nationwide.

“As people have more options to seek support, it can lead to earlier interventions before mental health challenges escalate into crisis situations,” Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, said in a statement. “By teaming up with a leading health care organization like Sutter Health, we can continue working to address mental illnesses before they reach crisis stage –as we say, before Stage 4 –and offer broader access to services for people to change the trajectory of their lives.”

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