Combating Mental Health Stigma in the Community

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Kaiser Permanente is providing grants to expand key mental health services in Northern California.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 5 American adults has experienced a mental health issue, and 1 in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. One of the major barriers to accessing care is social stigma associated with mental illness.

A group of spiritual leaders in Modesto are coached on talking to the Latino community about mental health by the West Modesto Community Collaborative.

In efforts to combat this, Kaiser Permanente is funding 3 Northern California community organizations with $90,000 each to serve their communities: Delta Health Care to expand mental health services and outreach to students at Stockton’s Edison High School; The West Modesto Collaborative for grassroots outreach and education programs utilizing local faith-based groups and leadership to reduce stigma around mental illness; and the Health Education Council to help lower-income Hispanic students from 5 specific neighborhoods in Roseville.

These grants are part of a $2 million Kaiser Permanente investment in 2019 to support Northern California community organizations in their work to reduce the stigma around mental illness and serve people who historically shy away from getting mental health services.

The Power of Investment

Deanna Staggs, Delta Health Care school-based program manager, said Kaiser Permanente’s grant helped her organization promote Edison High School’s existing campus-based mental health services and introduce students to the mental health staff.

“The outreach conducted thanks to the grant reached 1,200 students and resulted in 36 new mental health referrals,” Staggs said.

For the West Modesto Community Collaborative, this year’s funds from Kaiser Permanente will allow the organization to launch a program using a radio station to talk about mental health, said Perfecto Muñoz, the collaborative’s executive director.

“We are excited to have this grant renewed,” said Muñoz. “During our first year of funding we were able to survey our community with an emphasis on youth to learn their needs and challenges around mental health.” He said the grant also funded mental health training, in both English and Spanish, for the clergy, who now provide resources for the local community around mental health.

According to Debra S. Oto-Kent, founder and executive director of the Health Education Council, Kaiser Permanente’s grant will grow the “Invest in Health Roseville” initiative, which expands understanding of mental health needs, barriers, challenges and opportunities through focus groups, surveys, and key interviews conducted in English and Spanish. “We are excited to have this grant renewed from Kaiser Permanente and to promote mental health and stigma reduction among families of the Roseville City School District,” Oto-Kent said.

“As we see an increase of mental health issues in our community, it is of utmost importance to partner with our own communities and do more to correct misperceptions and help reduce stigma,” said Jordan Herget, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente Roseville.

Yvette Radford, vice president of External and Community Affairs for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, shared this sentiment.

“Our goal with this funding is to increase understanding of mental health as part of overall health, and to do so in partnership with communities that know best how to meet local needs. We are committed to addressing stigma and expanding mental health services in a manner that is respectful of the culture, belief systems, and backgrounds of those we are trying to reach.”

The investments in Northern California are designed to complement the Find Your Words campaign with partners including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line and Mental Health America.

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