For Perfecto Muñoz, executive director for West Modesto Community Collaborative, mental health is an issue that “we shouldn’t ignore.”
And thanks to a $90,000 in new grant from Kaiser Permanente the community based not for profit organization will continue its effort to develop the work to increase mental health awareness in the community of Modesto in Stanislaus county.
The grant is part of a $2 million Kaiser Permanente investment to support community organizations in their work to reduce the stigma around mental illness.
Throughout Northern California 26 organizations received community benefit grants, including school districts, youth and family services and community coalitions to help serve people who historically shy away from getting mental health services, according to Lilly Wyatt, PR and Media Relations with Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
The West Modesto Community Collaborative will utilize the ‘promotora’ model to continue to implement grassroots outreach and education using faith-based groups and leadership.
Muñoz said this is the second year they receive the grant from Kaiser to reduce the stigma of mental health illness in that part of Modesto.
With the grant they were able to reach out and educate different pastors and clergy about the signs of mental health with in the community and youth groups, Muñoz said, adding that during the first year the program trained 22 pastors taking part of a peer to peer program that educate them on the 101 of mental health.
In San Joaquin County, the organization Delta Health Care in Stockton will expand a mental health awareness campaign at Edison High School with the $90,000 in grant funding.
“Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving the health of the entire community across Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, and we’re pleased to partner with these two organizations on such an important initiative – to reduce the fear that keeps people from seeking help for mental illness,” said Corwin Harper, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente in the Central Valley.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 5 adults in the United States has experienced a mental health issue, and 1 in 25 of them live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. One of the major barriers to accessing care is social stigma associated with mental illness.
According to Wyatt, Kaiser Permanente views stigma reduction as a necessary component of promoting improved mental health and wellness in communities.
By partnering with community groups, Kaiser Permanente aims to increase understanding of mental health as part of overall health, provide innovative interventions in populations that are challenged by stigma and establish a baseline of the current levels of mental health-related stigma and understanding of mental health.
“Stigma is influenced by our cultural belief systems and it impacts our decisions to seek care, even in times of crisis,” said Dr. Amanjot Deol, physician in Chief of behavioral health for Kaiser Permanente in the Central Valley. “Kaiser Permanente believes that a person’s culture should be at the center of their health care experience, not a barrier to getting the care they need.”
“We hope to reach as many people as possible with these efforts,” said Harper. “Equally important to us is discovering innovative approaches for dispelling the mental illness myths and misunderstandings that keep people from reaching their best overall health.”
As part of that investment, Kaiser Permanente also gave a $90,000 grant to Camarena Health in Madera County.
Last year the $90,000 grant to Camarena Health supported a public awareness campaign to reduce the stigma around mental illness and encourage students in the Madera Unified School District and pregnant women to seek treatment if needed.
“The grant is being renewed for a second year, which will help keep these public awareness campaigns going and continue outreach to these populations,” said Kerri Leedy, PR and Media Relations with Kaiser Permanente Northern California The grant awarded to Camarena Health – the largest healthcare provider in Madera County – was expected to serve 2,500 high school students and 750 pregnant women accessing care in their health center.
Through last year’s grant Camarena Health was able to survey more than 500 students at Madera South High School and more than 200 of their pregnant patients and the data collected was used to develop media campaigns focused on reducing the stigma around mental health.