As we have now enhanced our focus on health and wellness as articulated in our current vision statement, it is imperative that our system, regional and business unit governance boards, in partnership with management, embrace, in a more focused way, the “Seven Determinants of Health.” These include:
• Primary outpatient locations that are convenient;
• Schools with quality teachers and educational processes;
• Preschool and after-school programs for working parents;
• Appropriate low cost housing;
• Appropriate nutrition;
• Appropriate psychological and psychiatric services;
• Right-sized hospitals with the appropriate acute care services.
Of all these services, those associated with psychological and psychiatric care have been significantly reduced over the last decade and are minimally available in most communities. This is highlighted in a recent article entitled, “The Forgotten Patients,” which appeared in the Sept. 13, 2010 edition of Forbes magazine. The article’s authors state that the “health industry ignores the 35,000 people a year who commit suicide.” This article also highlights the fluctuation of both mental health issues and suicide with age, gender and ethnicity, factors that we must take into account in our international ministry as the world continues to flatten. And finally, the article concludes by identifying some best practices, including proposed and ongoing research to address these challenges.
As the CHRISTUS Health family continues its Journey to Excellence, it will be necessary for us to develop processes to improve the mental health status of the communities we serve.