The Connect 4 Mental Health Community Innovation Awards recognize organizations introducing novel approaches to address mental health in early intervention, creative use of technology, continuity of care and service integration. The National Council, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. and Lundbeck recently announced the recipients of the 2015 Connect 4 Mental Health™ (C4MH) Community Innovation Awards. The winning organizations receive a $10,000 grant and join previous awardees to facilitate best practices.
What sets these organizations apart from others? They deliver community-driven, solutions-based approaches to help people living with serious mental illness. Here’s a review of their practices and successes to date:
Mental Health America (MHA) of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio established the Tri-State Mental Health First Aid Hub (Tri-State Hub) to increase mental health literacy and reduce stigma across their community. The Tri-State Hub involves the MHA and partner organizations who have jointly held 36 Mental Health First Aid courses to certify 790 people to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. MHA also incorporated Mental Health First Aid into a continuum of trainings for criminal justice professionals. The grant funding will allow them to train more than 300 additional people in Mental Health First Aid.
NAMI San Diego, in collaboration with the County of San Diego and other mental health organizations, created the Tech CAFE to improve access to technology for individuals with serious mental illness and their family members. The Cafe offers computer classes and individualized training to educate and empower individuals to schedule medical appointments, access health/wellness resources, gain employment, address transportation issues, access online education and connect with family and friends. Over 350 San Diegans living with mental illness have graduated from computer classes offered in a variety of languages. In addition, over 500 older adults living with mental illness have access to the Senior Mobile Technology Lab. With the award, they will continue to expand the program and create a mobile computer lab to reach rural residents.
NAMI Greater Cleveland (NAMI GC) pioneered a service model to support high-poverty public housing residents who experience long lapses in treatment or have never received mental health services. Their Emotional Wellness Programming aims to provide a community of support and includes mental health workshops, individual follow up, support groups and social and volunteer activities. Since the launch, 221 individuals at two inner-city public housing complexes in Cleveland have participated in workshops and support group visits. This supportive community of peers has helped residents to improve their physical and mental well-being and maintain housing. NAMI GC plans to continue building the staff capacity and community partnerships to deliver a continuum of care in more public housing facilities.
Individuals with serious mental illness die decades earlier than the general population, largely from preventable primary health conditions. Jefferson Center for Mental Health in Colorado partnered with community organizations to develop Union Square Health Home, a fully integrated health care home for adults with serious mental illness, to ensure that people who suffer from mental illness receive whole health care and are diverted from inappropriate and costly care settings. Union Square offers psychiatric and mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, primary care, wellness services and peer health coaching under one roof. Since 2013, 653 patients have enrolled in Union Square. With the award, they will train a Peer Specialist to facilitate their Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.
Connect 4 Mental Health (C4MH) is a nationwide initiative calling for communities to prioritize serious mental illness and advocate for new approaches that aim to help make a difference for individuals living with these conditions, their families and their communities. C4MH is an alliance between the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (National Council), Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. and Lundbeck. To learn more, visit www.connect4mentalhealth.com.