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One in five people will experience mental illness during their lives. Awareness of mental health is increasing, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. In this episode of Off the Charts podcast, we talk with Sarah Cassell, the director of inpatient mental health services at Regions Hospital.
She talks with us about the cultural connection to mental health stigma, the increased need for mental health services and so much more. Listen to the episode or read the transcript.
How the pandemic affected mental health
The pandemic was a traumatic event that had a huge impact on health, including mental health. Hospitals are seeing more mental health patients come through and an increase in people who are turning to substance use to cope. Sarah Cassell has noticed that the patients coming to Regions Hospital are sicker and require more time in inpatient care.
Care teams are also experiencing a decline in mental health. After years of caring for patients during a pandemic, they’re experiencing mental health issues at higher rates, including burnout. In order to help support the inpatient care team at Regions Hospital, Sarah Cassell is working to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health.
Supporting mental health patients from all cultural backgrounds
Mental health conditions can affect anyone. It’s not uncommon for doctors at Regions Hospital to see patients from cultural backgrounds different than their own, but it can make treating their mental health concerns more difficult.
One of the first steps in supporting mental health equity is providing care in each patient’s primary language. Mental illness can be complicated to explain, and some languages don’t have words to describe the symptoms. Language barriers and miscommunications can make a mental health crisis more difficult.
Because Regions takes an interdisciplinary approach to treating mental illness, Sarah Cassell believes this helps cut down on miscommunications. So many different experts come together to talk with and listen to each patient, helping everyone feel understood.
Moving the mental health conversation forward
The inpatient mental health team at Regions Hospital is working to improve health equity when it comes to treating mental illnesses. We work closely with the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), a group that shares patient feedback on policies and procedures. A former Regions patient helped create therapeutic listening, a time when a patient can sit down with their care team and just speak. This time is all about hearing the patient, not about updating medical charts, moving on to the next treatment or trying to wrap up the appointment.
Listen to the episode to hear from Sarah Cassell about the work that’s being done to reduce the stigma around mental health.