May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Did you know we are in the middle of a second pandemic? It’s the global mental health crisis that is touching the life of every Minnesotan in some way.
Problems that had already been on the rise for many communities— addictions; self-destructive behaviors; workplace stress and economic challenges; health care inequities; racial and social injustices—have become a tidal wave since COVID-19 began to subside. People in need have trouble accessing care, and mental health professionals are unable to keep up with the increasing demands for their services.
The most recent numbers point to the true urgency of finding new and better ways of addressing mental health needs.
More worrisome is the significant rise in mental health issues for children and adolescents. 75% of mental health issues begin before age 25, and depression and increasing rates of suicidal behavior were already a growing concern among adolescents even before the pressures of COVID-19 disrupted their lives. In a 2018 national survey of youth aged 12 - 17:
- 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- Girls are disproportionately impacted
So what are we doing to help? The Medical School and our faculty group practice, M Physicians, are tackling these complex issues from all angles:
- We have innovative and internationally recognized RESEARCH PROGRAMS in addictions, adolescent depression and self-injury, treatment-resistant depression, psychosis, autism, child OCD and tic disorder, brain modulation, and in brain development and mental health in children. We combine basic bench research with brain imaging and patient outcomes to discover new preventative approaches and treatment options
- We EDUCATE many of the medical students who will practice as physicians in Minnesota, and we TRAIN a significant portion of the state’s adult and child psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychologists, and mental health social workers. We are partnering with our pediatric colleagues to expand children’s mental health training for pediatricians. We have an expanding focus on telepsychiatry and on developing rural mental health programs, since in greater Minnesota, there can be as many as 1,500 people for every one mental health care provider (compared with 304:1 in metro areas)
- We offer CLINICAL CARE to a wide range of patients in multiple health systems, often treating some of the most complex or challenging situations, bringing what we learn in the lab and bench directly into practice so that patients can benefit from our learnings in real-time
Please read on about how we are working to improve mental health in Minnesota and beyond.
-- Dr. Sophia Vinogradov, Department Head of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota Medical School; Psychiatrist at M Health Fairview Mental Health and Addiction Clinic