In the Know

Mental Health Initiative Takes the Field at Angel Game

06.19.2017 St. Joseph Hoag Health

St. Joseph Hoag Health strives to make mental health part of wellness checkup for every patient

St. Joseph Hoag Health is on a mission to provide resources, support and care for those suffering from mental health concerns. Recently, the network took its message of support to one of the biggest venues in Orange County–Angel Stadium–to let residents know they have a place to turn when they, or someone they know, faces mental health challenges. Sporting batting gloves imprinted with the message “You Are Not Alone,” executives, medical experts and even a recovering patient stepped onto the field before the Angels faced the Yankees to tell the audience that mental illness is not a condition to be hidden.

“We’re here to bring awareness to the issue of mental health and mental wellness, and behavior health, and all of the issues that surround the stigma of mental illness,” said Dr. Richard Afable, executive vice president of Providence St. Joseph Health’s Southern California Region and president and CEO of St. Joseph Hoag Health.

“We want to bring to the attention of the community (that) mental illness and behavioral health is such a major problem in our community…it affects everybody,” Dr. Afable said.

From the most severe chronic conditions such as bio polar and manic-depressive, to schizophrenia and anxiety, there are a range of conditions that St. Joseph Hoag Health is expert at treating, said Dr. Afable.

The number of people dealing with some form of mental health challenge is staggering. Twenty to 25 percent of the population is affected, said Dr. Clayton Chau, regional executive medical director for St. Joseph Hoag Health’s Institute for Mental Health and Wellness.

Dr. Chau explained that a major initiative, led by St. Joseph Hoag Health, aims to change that number. “We just recently established a community coalition for behavior health here in Orange County.” Dr. Chau said. “We have many stakeholders–public, private and academic institutions–joining us in moving toward creating a system of care for people living in Orange County.”

A patient who benefited from treatment for depression at St. Joseph Hoag Health’s Mission Hospital Laguna Beach shared his story of success with the media before he threw out the first pitch.

“My treatment at St. Joseph was a lifesaving event,” he said. “I did feel hopeless. I did feel unbelievably disheartened and discouraged and frustrated.” Six to seven months after reaching a breakthrough in his treatment, he said, he’s well on his way to recovery.

“This is not an illness to be hidden… it needs to be out there and it can be treated,” Dr. Afable said.

(This story originally appeared in OC Catholic, June, 2017)

Categories: Mental Health, News - SJHH