'Find Your Words' to Fight Stigma Around Depression

Kaiser Permanente is teaming up with organizations in an effort to encourage conversation about depression and mental health.

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Depression and other mental health issues are common and touch nearly all of our lives, directly or through connections to friends, family, or colleagues. But it can be hard to talk about, even with loved ones.


More than 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental health condition, including about 14.8 million adults who live with major depression. Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 have experienced or will experience a mental health condition. In approximately 5 percent, the condition will be severe.

But treatment works, and there is hope. Kaiser Permanente (No. 1 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) is committed to tackling the stigma and is teaming up with other organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line and Mental Health America, to change the conversation around mental illness.

The public health awareness effort, "Find Your Words," focuses on mental health and wellness with spots for TV, theater, digital and radio featuring lyrics that talk about depression in an honest and inspiring way. These spots launched in October 3 in the majority of our markets.

The spots drive viewers to FindYourWords.org, a website that provides basic information about depression, offers resources and invites the public to engage in a conversation about mental health and wellness through an interactive component.

Having a much-needed conversation

At Kaiser Permanente, total health includes mind, body and spirit — with the understanding that physical health and mental health are closely connected. Just as someone would go to the doctor for strep throat or a broken arm, it's important to seek care for mental health issues.

However, people might be reluctant to get help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. With this campaign, Kaiser Permanente and its partners aim to help reduce the stigma around depression and motivate people across the country to talk about it.

"The entire nation faces challenges when it comes to providing high-quality mental health care to those who need it, but we want people to know that mental health treatment works and that there is hope," said Don Mordecai, MD, national leader for Mental Health and Wellness, and director of The Permanente Medical Group Mental Health & Chemical Dependency Services. "We are building partnerships with national mental health organizations, and standing together as a strong voice against the stigma and shame that can hinder some from seeking help."

"Mental Health America is addressing mental illness Before Stage 4. Don't wait until there is a crisis — if you think you're dealing with depression, the best thing to do is to answer a few questions with an online screening, learn more and get connected, " said Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, senior director of policy and programs, Mental Health America.

We can all help support better mental health and wellness. This effort is Kaiser Permanente's call for us to find our words and instill hope in our loved ones, friends and colleagues struggling with mental health conditions. Visit FindYourWords.org to learn more and see what you can do to take part in this important conversation.

Kaiser Permanente: It's Men's Health Month

A look at the top health threats that face men, prevention tips and how to get additional help.

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

As we celebrate Men's Health Month, it's important to stay aware of the most pressing health problems the men close to you may face, and to encourage early detection of these problems.

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Opioid use has been a major health concern in the U.S. Opioid use increased in the United States by 300 percent from 1997 to 2010, and overdose deaths increased 200 percent from 2000 to 2014.

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

A Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 2,500 patients who used high doses of opioids for at least six months showed that reducing their opioid use did not lower their satisfaction with care. The study, "Satisfaction With Care After Reducing Opioids for Chronic Pain," was published today in The American Journal of Managed Care.

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Five Questions with Dr. Ronald Copeland of Kaiser Permanente on Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Depression and other mental health conditions are a leading cause of workplace disability in the form of lost productivity because of how common they are–1 out of every 5 people are suffering from a mental health condition at any given time–and because they tend to occur when people are young.

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Kaiser Permanente's focus on reducing mental health stigma for consumers and members also applies to its own employees. The National Organization on Disability caught up with Ron Copeland, MD, to understand how to best create a supportive and inclusive workplace for people who are experiencing a mental health condition.

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Kaiser Permanente Researchers Develop New Models for Predicting Suicide Risk

Approach may offer value to health systems and clinicians in targeting interventions to prevent suicide

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

Combining data from electronic health records with results from standardized depression questionnaires better predicts suicide risk in the 90 days following either mental health specialty or primary care outpatient visits, reports a team from the Mental Health Research Network, led by Kaiser Permanente research scientists.

The study, "Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Death Following Outpatient Visits Using Electronic Health Records," conducted in five Kaiser Permanente regions (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, California and Washington), the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis, was published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Combining a variety of information from the past five years of people's electronic health records and answers to questionnaires, the new models predicted suicide risk more accurately than before, according to the authors. The strongest predictors include prior suicide attempts, mental health and substance use diagnoses, medical diagnoses, psychiatric medications dispensed, inpatient or emergency room care, and scores on a standardized depression questionnaire.

Dr. Simon shares what inspired him to study mental health.

"We demonstrated that we can use electronic health record data in combination with other tools to accurately identify people at high risk for suicide attempt or suicide death," said first author Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH, a Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist in Washington and a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

In the 90 days following an office visit:

  • Suicide attempts and deaths among patients whose visits were in the highest 1 percent of predicted risk were 200 times more common than among those in the bottom half of predicted risk.
  • Patients with mental health specialty visits who had risk scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 43 percent of suicide attempts and 48 percent of suicide deaths.
  • Patients with primary care visits who had scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 48 percent of suicide attempts and 43 percent of suicide deaths.

This study builds on previous models in other health systems that used fewer potential predictors from patients' records. Using those models, people in the top 5 percent of risk accounted for only a quarter to a third of subsequent suicide attempts and deaths. More traditional suicide risk assessment, which relies on questionnaires or clinical interviews only, is even less accurate.

The new study involved seven large health systems serving a combined population of 8 million people in nine states. The research team examined almost 20 million visits by nearly 3 million people age 13 or older, including about 10.3 million mental health specialty visits and about 9.7 million primary care visits with mental health diagnoses. The researchers deleted information that could help identify individuals.

"It would be fair to say that the health systems in the Mental Health Research Network, which integrate care and coverage, are the best in the country for implementing suicide prevention programs," Dr. Simon said. "But we know we could do better. So several of our health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, are working to integrate prediction models into our existing processes for identifying and addressing suicide risk."

Suicide rates are increasing, with suicide accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016; 25 percent more than in 2000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Other health systems can replicate this approach to risk stratification, according to Dr. Simon. Better prediction of suicide risk can inform decisions by health care providers and health systems. Such decisions include how often to follow up with patients, refer them for intensive treatment, reach out to them after missed or canceled appointments — and whether to help them create a personal safety plan and counsel them about reducing access to means of self-harm.