Life can throw a lot at us. So, it’s important not only that we protect our physical health and well-being, but that we find strength and resilience to meet life’s challenges and opportunities in body, mind, and spirit.
Kaiser Permanente Northwest understands the importance of recognizing the social and emotional challenges that individuals and communities are experiencing. We are working to improve the mental health and resilience of our communities through trauma-sensitive systems of care and prevention efforts, addiction treatment programs, and the integration of physical and mental health care in clinical and community settings.
When we’re facing mental health challenges, the availability of high-quality, culturally sensitive support is critical, not only to help us through the immediateness of a crisis we may be facing, but also over the long term.
Kaiser Permanente Northwest is making it easier to access mental health and supportive services by working with community partners to integrate those services into primary care settings in schools and community clinics. We’re training schools and clinics to be more “trauma-informed” — sensitive to ways that trauma over our lifetime can impact our overall health and well-being.
We also recognize that there are many social factors that can impact a person’s mental health — from our ability to maintain a job, to finding affordable housing, to putting food on our table. We’re working with community organizations like Central City Concern and Unity Center to create opportunities for safe and affordable housing so that individuals and families can find the stability they need to be at their best.
(See also Housing Security.)
Substance abuse from alcohol and drug addiction is a widespread epidemic in our region and requires a coordinated approach to treatment. Kaiser Permanente Northwest is actively working with our community partners to advocate for policies that strengthen addiction treatment and support. We participate in a number of statewide and regional commissions focused on substance abuse and opioid use reduction.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back or recover from trauma and associated mental health challenges we might have experienced. We believe that we can foster greater resiliency by promoting addressing mental health issues early on and fostering strategies that focus on preventing crises in the first place. We work in schools and primary care settings to screen for signs of trauma early on and provide culturally appropriate interventions that meet people where they are.
As with any form of care, we respond better when we are cared for in our own language and cultural context of understanding. That’s why Kaiser Permanente believes in building a diverse, skilled mental health workforce that can provide support to a diverse community. We regularly convene a cultural competency committee on mental health to make sure that we are providing support to people in a way that recognizes their unique life experiences and needs.