St. Joseph Hoag Health strives to make mental health part of wellness checkup
for every patient
St. Joseph Hoag Health is on a mission to provide resources, support and
care for those suffering from mental health concerns. Recently, the network
took its message of support to one of the biggest venues in Orange County–Angel
Stadium–to let residents know they have a place to turn when they,
or someone they know, faces mental health challenges. Sporting batting
gloves imprinted with the message “You Are Not Alone,” executives,
medical experts and even a recovering patient stepped onto the field before
the Angels faced the Yankees to tell the audience that mental illness
is not a condition to be hidden.
“We’re here to bring awareness to the issue of mental health
and mental wellness, and behavior health, and all of the issues that surround
the stigma of mental illness,” said Dr. Richard Afable, executive
vice president of Providence St. Joseph Health’s Southern California
Region and president and CEO of St. Joseph Hoag Health.
“We want to bring to the attention of the community (that) mental
illness and behavioral health is such a major problem in our community…it
affects everybody,” Dr. Afable said.
From the most severe chronic conditions such as bio polar and manic-depressive,
to schizophrenia and anxiety, there are a range of conditions that St.
Joseph Hoag Health is expert at treating, said Dr. Afable.
The number of people dealing with some form of mental health challenge
is staggering. Twenty to 25 percent of the population is affected, said
Dr. Clayton Chau, regional executive medical director for St. Joseph Hoag
Health’s Institute for Mental Health and Wellness.
Dr. Chau explained that a major initiative, led by St. Joseph Hoag Health,
aims to change that number. “We just recently established a community
coalition for behavior health here in Orange County.” Dr. Chau said.
“We have many stakeholders–public, private and academic institutions–joining
us in moving toward creating a system of care for people living in Orange
A patient who benefited from treatment for depression at St. Joseph Hoag
Health’s Mission Hospital Laguna Beach shared his story of success
with the media before he threw out the first pitch.
“My treatment at St. Joseph was a lifesaving event,” he said.
“I did feel hopeless. I did feel unbelievably disheartened and discouraged
and frustrated.” Six to seven months after reaching a breakthrough
in his treatment, he said, he’s well on his way to recovery.
“This is not an illness to be hidden… it needs to be out there
and it can be treated,” Dr. Afable said.
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(This story originally appeared in
OC Catholic, June, 2017)