People with mental illness have jobs, go to school and are active members
of their communities. Yet many do not reveal their conditions for fear
they will be perceived as unreliable for employment or relationships.
“Mental illness and mental health are best thought of as on a continuum,”
said Tom Loats, MSW, MPA, director of behavioral health services at St.
Joseph Hospital, Orange. “Regardless of the severity of their mental
illness, individuals can continue to achieve their goals and contribute
their gifts and talents to society.”
Tom cited as examples: astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who has had depression, and
John Nash, a mathematician and Nobel Prize winner, who was treated for
paranoid schizophrenia. “With the appropriate treatment, support
and resources,” Tom said, “healing and growth are possible
Many people just need access to detection, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing
care and support that can be provided in a non-acute setting.
Our commitment to create hope
Across our family of organizations, we are committed to working together
to defeat the stigmas and misconceptions about people with mental illness.
In reality, they can thrive as active, successful members of society.
A variety of services and programs create hope for people with mental
illness. These include outpatient programs and mental health education
classes, which provide a source of ongoing community support.
Great examples can be found at St. Joseph Hospital, Orange (SJO) where
the goal is to triage and treat all patients based on their most urgent
need, be it medical or behavioral intervention,as quickly as possible
and at the most appropriate level of care. Examples of this effort include
programs such as: the 14-bed psychiatric emergency care decision unit
attached to the emergency department (ED); the medication clinic for patients
who do not have a communitypsychiatrist but need a continuation prescription
after discharge from an inpatient program;and the postpartum screening
service for new mothers to screen for signs of depression or other mental
health issues before they leave with their newborn child. SJO has the
oldest Depression and Bipolar Alliance Center in the state, staffed with
volunteers who provide assistance to anyone seeking information about
mental health services in the county. SJO has developed a bridge between
triage services in the ED and treatment services in the behavioral health
services department using shared staff funded through a grant from the
California Mental Health Wellness Act.
Because many people feel they have to hide their mental illness, the consequence
is they are less able to access resources, treatment and support.
We are tapping into the best expertise and research within Providence
St. Joseph Health and across the country to identify and advance innovative
solutions to better integrate mental health and wellness into physical
care. The more we can increase the understanding that healthcare includes
mind, body and spirit, the more people will be able to access all the
care they need.
How to get help
St. Joseph Health recognizes that all caregivers experience stressful situations
in life and offers the Employee Assistance Program, which includes free
This is the newest article in a series that debunks mental health myths
and discusses Providence St. Joseph Health’s efforts to improve
mental health care in the communities we serve.
You can catch up on past articles here:
Myth: The mentally ill can just “snap out of it.”
Myth: Children are too young to develop mental illnesses.