Harford County ranks seventh highest in our state for suicide completion and fifth highest for drug overdose. That is the bad news. However, the good news is that University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) is actively working toward and extremely committed to a strategic plan where many stakeholders and providers band together to focus on prevention, intervention and recovery for behavioral health issues.
|Mental Health First Aid
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April 10: UM Harford Memorial Hospital, Havre de Grace Room, 8:30 am-5 pm
University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace is one of two hospitals in the UCH System and has had an inpatient behavioral health unit for over 25 years. UM UCH’s Vision 2020 plan includes continuing our commitment to providing behavioral health services to our regional, two-county community in a state-of-the-art, self-contained, and secure inpatient unit. In addition, we have planned a broad scope of outpatient behavioral health services, which allow an individual to transition through multiple stages of treatment without needing to move to multiple locations.
The Behavioral Health Pavilion planned for the new campus in Havre de Grace will serve people from young adults over age 18 to the senior population in need of mental health stabilization, treatment and ongoing counseling. The Emergency Department services provided on the same campus will also offer a dedicated area for people suffering from a behavioral health emergency.
Services include hospital beds for inpatient stays, an outpatient Partial Hospitalization program and an Intensive Outpatient program. Our planned outpatient behavioral health services allow the patient to transition back home without going far from his/her support network. UM UCH’s plan follows the national trend that integrates behavioral health services within a community setting to allow for accessible treatment, recovery and support.
Richard Lewis, MD, Regional Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services at UM Upper Chesapeake Health and Union Hospital of Cecil County, and Rod Kornrumpf, FACHE, Regional Executive Director of
Behavioral Health Services at UM Upper Chesapeake Health and Union Hospital of Cecil County, answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about the state of behavioral health in our region and our plans for the future.
Q: Is the term behavioral health the same as mental health? Why don’t you just call it mental health?
A: “The term behavioral health incorporates both mental health and substance use services,” says Kornrumpf. “Many people have both issues – not one without the other. They’re often referred to as co-occurring conditions.”
Lewis continues: “Behavioral health captures a larger breadth of conditions from depression and anxiety to alcohol and drug abuse, so it includes mental, behavioral or emotional disorders. It also includes health maintenance – your diet, adherence to treatment, etc.”
We often treat the serious mental health issues while also stabilizing the substance use before referring that individual for more intensive addiction treatment that may follow discharge from UM Harford Memorial Hospital. The national standard of care is to treat both disorders within the same site, at the same time. For longer-term substance use treatment and similar to long-term mental health treatment, we partner (not just refer) with community providers as we have done with Ashley Addiction Services at UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air as well as Ashley’s new location in Elkton. This partnering relationship creates improved transitions between services and helps us follow how an individual is progressing in treatment and ongoing care. Implementing earlier interventions while decreasing hospital readmissions is also important and always better for the individual.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 43.8 million, or 18.5% – experiences mental illness in a given year. National Institute for Mental Health, 2015
Q: How do behavioral health problems affect physical health?
A: “People with serious psychiatric conditions often have more severe physical conditions and a shorter life span,” Lewis says. “Behavioral health conditions like substance abuse, depression and anxiety affect how well people can take care of themselves on a daily basis as well as other conditions like diabetes, weight, blood pressure. The interaction goes both ways.
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18-44. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Department of Health & Human Services, 2009
Q: What are the obstacles to getting people into treatment for behavioral health issues such as addiction?
A: “Identification of the problem itself is a main obstacle. People struggle with admitting the symptoms of mental illness because they do not understand what those symptoms mean or why it might be important to mention concerns to a physician or care provider. This makes it difficult for providers to identify the problem,” says Dr. Lewis. “Adding to the problem is the drastic shortage of psychiatric providers throughout the nation and a person’s ability to pay out of pocket fees currently not covered by insurance.”
Kornrumpf adds: “Though it’s better today than it has ever been, there’s still a stigmaa in our society. Some people still identify having a behavioral health condition as a weakness and something you have a choice over, but the reality is that you do not, it really is a disease – like heart disease or lung disease.”
Q: UM UCH’s Vision 2020 plan includes a significant investment in behavioral health services in our community. Why is this so important?
A: “We want to integrate and coordinate the general medical and behavioral health services in the two county region (Harford and Cecil) so that we can provide easier and more seamless access for our patients as well as screen and assess for behavioral health issues in every medical interaction,” states Kornrumpf. “This also ties directly into the national population health care model – early intervention, prevention, wellness gets people into care much earlier in their disease process. Just like a true health care model, we want to catch diseases early.”
Q: If you had a magic wand, what would be different about the way we identify and treat behavioral health disorders?
A: “I would speed up the process of integrating behavioral health into the general medical setting so we can screen for conditions early on in a medical assessment. As it is, patients often get to us when they have severe conditions and have no other options. It can be quite difficult to affect someone’s progress in a meaningful way at that stage,” says Dr. Lewis.
Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays – sometimes decades – between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help. Kessler, R.C., et al. (2005). Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of 12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593–602.
UM UCH’s plans provide a much-needed service for those individuals impacted by behavioral health disorders. We want our community to be reassured that our commitment to maintaining a safe environment for our patients, their families, and our community has always been a top priority for us and this focus and commitment will continue in our
new facility. I95 Content Marketing