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Kaiser Permanente Joins National Mental Health Coalition

The coalition Mental Health for US aims to raise mental health awareness during the U.S. presidential campaign.

Kaiser Permanente is partnering with The Kennedy Forum and a coalition of prominent mental health and addiction organizations in the launch of Mental Health for US, a national initiative designed to elevate policy conversations about mental health as key discussion points during the U.S. presidential election.

The bi-partisan initiative was launched June 10 by former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), founder of the Kennedy Forum, during the 10th annual advocacy forum of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Washington, D.C. Kaiser Permanente is supporting the initiative and the coalition, which includes the Kennedy Forum, AFSP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, the JED Foundation, One Mind and Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation. The initiative is co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Gordon H. Smith, a longtime mental health advocate.

Patrick Kennedy, left, founder of the Kennedy Forum, and Janet Liang, president of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region

The goal of the campaign is to bring continued awareness of mental health issues to the forefront of a national discussion at key points during a presidential election, while improving the nation’s literacy around mental health and encouraging those in the mental health and addiction community to take a guiding role, leading the conversation on a national scale.

“The growing demand for mental health care and the shortage of professionals who provide it is a national crisis affecting our friends and families, our communities and all health care organizations,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “We must continue to work together to solve this challenge. This partnership is an important and significant step forward toward a shared goal.”

Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving mental health and well-being in the country, Tyson said, leading through significant investments in staffing and facilities, the use of innovations including telehealth and recovery focused care, and its continuing commitment to raising awareness around mental health issues and reducing stigma.

“There is so much more we must do to address the gaps in mental health care across the country,” said Don Mordecai, MD, national leader for Mental Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente. “By working together with other leaders on mental health education, along with advancing an integrated approach to mental, physical and emotional health, we hope to lead the way in bringing attention, accessibility and best practices on this important issue.”

The initiative’s policy platform, focused on areas of prevention, access and intervention and recovery, aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to total health, Tyson said.

Nearly one in five Americans live with a mental health condition and one in 12 live with addiction. By educating the public on the severity of America’s health crisis, Mental Health for US will use civic engagement with voters and candidates during the election and seek to be a catalyst in addressing mental health and addiction.

“The important work in transforming mental health care in our country does not rest with one organization or institution. We need all stakeholders to come together and I thank Kaiser Permanente for joining as a champion of this initiative,” said Kennedy, who was lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

The launch of the initiative is the first of many forums where industry leaders will join forces to educate the public and politicians about mental health issues. In Chicago on June 11, The Kennedy Forum will convene advocates, employers, HR professionals, labor leaders, and others to explore innovative strategies in workplace well-being.

Read more information on the Mental Health for US initiative.



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