Intermountain Healthcare and community partners are collaborating to address vital mental health issues in Utah in a significant way. These initiatives include improved access and help for minority populations and communities of color.
Intermountain recently contributed $67 million to help support mental health access projects that foster collaboration with not-for-profit partners, community groups, and state and local governments.
One of Intermountain’s contributions established an endowment fund. This resource will award grants yearly over the next ten years to programs that focus on improving mental health access and assisting underserved populations.
“Mental health and substance use are top concerns for our community. In response, Intermountain is focused on expanding access to care, reducing access to lethal means, and promoting protective attitudes and social norms,” said Lisa Nichols, assistant vice president of Intermountain Community Health. “Together we can improve the mental well-being of our community.”
Underrepresented groups are also more likely to experience persistent and severe mental illness and encounter barriers when accessing critical services and supports.
Intermountain’s values include providing quality, affordable, and timely behavioral healthcare.
In 2011, Intermountain’s Behavioral Health Network (BHN) system was developed to provide free behavioral health visits – including substance use disorder treatment and medication management – to uninsured and underinsured community members.
Intermountain continues to expand this system and the diversity of the partners involved. Intermountain is also expanding community health collaborations to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.
Mental health concerns are at all-time highs in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. Utah already showed a need to increase mental health resources as the state ranks last for mental health access in the country, according to a 2019 Gardner Institute Policy Report.
The state has also ranked high in suicide deaths per capita, ranking as the sixth highest state in the nation. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Utah’s rate of 21.21 deaths by suicide is higher than the national average of 13.93 deaths.
Contributions from Intermountain have been made, or committed to, numerous nonprofit organizations throughout the state. Including the Utah Department of Human Services, Utah Pride Center, and Latino Behavioral Health, to name a few.
Providing a virtual connection to behavioral health services is also essential in this work.
Telebehavioral health allows Intermountain to reach underserved populations (especially in rural areas) more effectively and to treat people in the comfort and privacy of their homes, reducing the need to arrange time off work, transportation, and childcare.
In 2020, Intermountain launched the Emotional Health Relief Hotline and Connect Care Behavioral Health. The Emotional Relief Hotline during the COVID-19 pandemic received over 6,500 calls. It expanded this year to include more services, resources, and virtual help with the new Behavioral Health Navigation Line (833-442-2211).
Medical caregivers answer the hotline to help people navigate challenges. Anyone can call for free to speak to a caregiver and talk through their concerns and problems. Situations can range from daily stress to critical situations. Anyone can call the Behavioral Health Navigation Line. It’s available 7 days a week from 7 am to 7pm. Translation services are available.
Intermountain and community partners will continue their work together to address these issues and the needs of Utah’s mental well-being.
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