DENVER — More than one million Coloradans — men, women and children — live with a mental health condition. Even though depression and other mental health issues are common, they can be difficult to talk about. Today, Kaiser Permanente Colorado is launching a new effort to spark conversation and fight the stigma surrounding mental health.
Kaiser Permanente’s “Find Your Words” public health awareness campaign focuses on TV, radio and online messages that talk about depression in an honest and inspiring way. Coinciding with the start of National Mental Health Month, the campaign launches today, Monday, May 1.
“At Kaiser Permanente, we believe health is achieved when mind, body and spirit work together to improve your life,” said Roland Lyon, Kaiser Permanente Colorado president. “With this campaign, we hope to spark the conversation and let Coloradans know that receiving care for your mental health is just as important as going to the doctor for strep throat or a broken arm.”
The “Find Your Words” campaign drives viewers to FindYourWords.org, a website that provides basic information about depression, offers resources and invites the public to engage in a conversation about mental health and wellness through an interactive component. Kaiser Permanente partnered with several national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line and Mental Health America on the “Find Your Words” campaign.
“We are expanding partnerships with local and national mental health organizations, and standing together as a strong voice against the stigma and shame that can hinder some from seeking help,” said Margaret Ferguson, MD, president and executive medical director of the Colorado Permanente Medical Group which provides care to the 680,000 Kaiser Permanente members in the state. “We want people to know that mental health treatment works and that there is hope.”
In addition to the “Find Your Words” campaign, Kaiser Permanente is awarding grant funding to advance social and emotional wellness and mental health in school districts across the state. In August 2017, Kaiser Permanente will award five Colorado school districts a combined $1.5 million in Thriving Schools behavioral health grants.
The schools, listed below, will use the grants to increase access to mental health and wellness programs to help teachers and staff learn how to identify and deal with mental health needs in students as well as themselves.
Boulder Valley School District (Denver/Boulder) – Fairview High School, Nederland Middle-Senior High School, and Nederland Elementary School
The Thriving Schools grant will help address the mental health and social emotional learning needs identified in three Boulder Valley schools by providing teachers, staff and parents with professional learning through the Let’s Connect program — a comprehensive social and emotional training program for adults and students.
Cherry Creek School District (Denver/Boulder) – Prairie Middle School
The Thriving Schools grant will support the implementation of the Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS) program in Prairie Middle School — one of the largest and most diverse schools in Colorado. Its 1,780 students represent 70 countries and 45 different languages.
Summit School District (Mountain Colorado) – Dillon Valley Elementary School, Silverthorne Elementary School, and Upper Blue Elementary School
Summit School District serves more than 3,500 students in the diverse mountain communities of Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne. The Thriving Schools grant will support the SAFE KIDS Summit County project which provides wellness training for teachers and staff in three local elementary schools.
Thompson School District (Northern Colorado) – Lincoln Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School, and Truscott Elementary School
The Thompson School District serves more than 16,000 students in the communities of Loveland, Berthoud, Fort Collins, and Weld and Boulder counties. The Thriving Schools grant will support In Focus, a training program that helps teachers and staff to recognize their own emotions and limitations to help their young students manage their emotions, improve their focus and gain self-control.
Fountain-Fort Carson School District (Southern Colorado) – Jordahl Elementary School, Fountain Middle School, and Welte Education Center
This school district has more than 8,000 students, including 4,600 students from military families. The Thriving Schools grant will provide teachers and staff with training focused on trauma-informed care and culturally sensitive practices.
“A child’s mental health is greatly influenced by experiences at school,” said Douglas Newton, MD, Kaiser Permanente Colorado psychiatrist. “With these grants, we hope to support more Colorado teachers and staff as they continue to learn skills to identify mental health and wellness needs for themselves, their students and the school community."
Kaiser Permanente also offers schools a unique approach to learning about, identifying and living with mental health issues. “People Like Vince” is a free, interactive play for elementary students that seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by teaching students about social and emotional wellness. This school year, “People Like Vince” was performed to more than 13,000 students at 49 Colorado schools.
In addition to schools, Kaiser Permanente has long provided support to various public mental health organizations. Recently, Kaiser Permanente teamed up with eight Colorado foundations to announce an $11.2 million, five-year ‘LAUNCH Together’ grant aimed at promoting the social and emotional health and well-being of Colorado’s children and families.
Kaiser Permanente has also long been committed to advancing mental health through research. Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research is currently involved in numerous studies including evaluating the effectiveness of online programs for managing depression, interventions to improve the mental health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum women, suicide prevention, and early detection of mental illness.
In 2011, the IHR joined the Mental Health Research Network to develop a diverse national resource for mental health researchers. This partnership enables multiple health systems and hospitals across the U.S. to coordinate data and implement the most effective treatments for patients.
To learn more about mental health, please visit FindYourWords.org and see what you can do to take part in this important conversation.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, working to improve the lives and health of all Coloradans for 48 years. We are comprised of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and the Colorado Permanente Medical Group—one of the state’s largest medical groups with more than 1,200 physicians. We provide comprehensive care for our 680,000 Kaiser Permanente Colorado members through 31 medical offices across the state—from Pueblo to Greeley and now in the mountains in Summit and Eagle counties. We are also committed to our social mission and in 2016, proudly directed more than $118 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, follow us @kpcolorado or like us facebook.com/kpcolorado.