Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley Focuses Work on Mental Health
Kaiser Permanente is working to become a leader in providing mental health care for our members and patients, and ultimately providing a model for the delivery of mental health care in the community.
We recognize that our society faces a growing need for mental health care. In the Antelope Valley, the statistics surrounding mental health need to be addressed:
- Nearly 20 percent of adults reported needing mental health care;
- More than 18 percent of Medicare beneficiaries suffer with depression; and
- More than 28 percent of adults report inadequate social or emotional support.
In addition, the suspension rates at local schools are 19.57 per 100 students—nearly five times the state average—and the expulsion rate is .39 per 100 students—nearly eight times the state average. All of which are associate with poor mental health outcomes. Because of this, Kaiser Permanente has been working hard to improve mental health services offered to our members and the community.
In October, Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness, Dr. Ari Levy, participated on a panel at the Antelope Valley Partners for Health Annual Wellness Symposium, with peers from the LA County Department of Mental Health, Mental Health America of Los Angeles, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Levy and the panelists discussed hot topics including the following:
- Implementing strategies related to co-location of primary care and mental health services;
- Educating and creating outreach strategies for youth development organizations and schools;
- Addressing prevention efforts focused on prescription drug abuse;
- Supporting policies and prevention programs focused on early child development and stress; and
- Changing the stigma around mental health.
Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley has been supporting the work of local nonprofits through our Community Benefit grant program for more than ten years. And in 2017, we granted more than $60,000 to local nonprofits to fund mental health and wellness programs:
- Antelope Valley College Foundation received funding to expand mental health and crisis support services for Antelope Valley College’s uninsured and lower income student population including a focus on veterans’ services and professional development.
- CASA of Los Angeles received funding to provide mental health advocacy for children and youth in foster care the Antelope Valley thus improving their safety, permanence, and wellbeing.
- The Catalyst Foundation received funding to provide outreach, counseling, case management, linkages to social services, and benefit enrollment support for high risk homeless individuals.
- Mental Health America of Los Angeles received funding to support Operation Healthy Homecoming, a mental health outreach, education, counseling, and prevention program and housing program for returning military and veterans who are homeless or at risk for homelessness.
- Vision Y Compromiso received funding to support the Wellness Circles Project improving mental health, increasing physical activity, and strengthening social support networks thus reducing risk factors for diabetes and chronic disease among low-income multi-ethnic pre-diabetic adults in the Antelope Valley.
Our Community Portfolio also focuses on educating students about behavioral health and wellness. Our Educational Theatre program performs free shows addressing conflict management, bullying prevention, and more to elementary, middle, and high schools. Our Hippocrates Circle and Medical Exploring programs have exposed hundreds of local teens to careers in the medical field, including behavioral health. And, in the near future, we are working with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) to host support groups at our facilities.
At the national and local level, Kaiser Permanente focused on the opioid epidemic, and placed drug take-back kiosks in pharmacies, so prescriptions and medicine can be disposed of safely. In the Antelope Valley, key community leaders created an Opioid Collaborative focused on reducing the number of opioid prescriptions.
And, this year, Kaiser Permanente continued its awareness campaign to reduce the stigma around mental health and focus on the power words have in supporting those with depression and other mental health conditions though FindYourWords.org.
If you would like to learn more about these programs, please contact Community Benefit Manager Amy Wiese at Amy.C.Wiese@kp.org.