Important News and Information
News Brief 2018
The Kutztown University recently dedicated the MindKare Kiosk inside the Mcfarland Student Union. This kiosk is part of a larger effort to raise awareness about mental health and is used in the “Check Up Above the Neck Up” initiative and is supported through the Berks County Healthy Transitions Program. The kiosk looks like an ATM but is used as a mental health screening tool, by the students, faculty, and community. This free screening is used to identify anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and alcohol use disorders. Many young adults struggle with mental health issues and are often resistant to seek help due to the stigma that exists, in the community, family, and peers, associated with mental health. This kiosk provides a private opportunity for individuals to “check in” who have concerns about how they are feeling. The data is collected by the Berks County Healthy Transitions Program to identify and address community mental health needs.
The “Check Up Above the Neck Up” is a result of the Now Is The Time (NITT) initiative released by President Barack Obama to increase access to mental health services across the United States in 2013. The Healthy Transitions (HT) Program is intended to improve access to treatment and services for youth and young adults ages 16-25 that either has or are at risk of developing, a serious mental health condition. Individuals in this age group are also at high risk for substance use and suicide.
The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) was awarded the HT grant in 2014 by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As a result of this five-year grant award, the Pennsylvania Healthy Transitions (PAHT) Partnership was created. The purpose of the (PAHT) Partnership is to develop a coordinated and comprehensive approach to the provision of services and supports to address serious mental health conditions, co-occurring disorders, and risks for developing serious mental health conditions among youth 16-25 years old. Berks County is one of three Learning Laboratories, along with Bucks and Washington Counties participating in the PA Healthy Transitions Partnership.
Pennsylvania State Health Improvement Plan Partners:
The Pennsylvania State Health Improvement Plan 2015-2020 (SHIP) was recently published to the Department of Health website. The plan is the culmination of a two year public process that began in 2014 and was developed using Public Health Accreditation Standards for SHIPs. The SHIP was developed by the Division of Plan Development (Bureau of Health Planning) in partnership with broad representation of public health system stakeholders across the commonwealth, other state agencies and representatives of Department of Health programs. Participants in this public health planning process were engaged to identify critical Pennsylvania health improvement priority areas to be addressed in Pennsylvania over the next five years through state-wide collaborative and strategic efforts.
The three Pennsylvania SHIP health priorities are:
- · Obesity, physical inactivity and nutrition;
- · Primary care and preventive services; and
- · Mental health and substance use.
As a five year strategic plan, SHIP establishes population health status goals and objectives and includes recommended strategies to achieve those goals and objectives. The SHIP also identifies lead and collaborating agencies and organizations in addition to the Department of Health which will implement SHIP strategic initiatives.
An Advisory Committee of stakeholders and department staff guided the development of SHIP. Three task forces made up of experts representing each of the three health priority areas created the objectives and strategies recommended in the SHIP. The Advisory Committee and task forces will guide the five-year SHIP implementation. The Division of Plan Development in the Bureau of Health Planning will continue to coordinate this state-wide health improvement initiative. Progress toward achieving objectives will be measured utilizing data collected by the Department of Health and by other organizations and agencies.
NIH Launches Moms’ Mental Health Matters
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has launched Moms’ Mental Health Matters, a new initiative to raise awareness among pregnant and postpartum mothers, their families, and healthcare providers about depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the baby is born.
NICHD has developed free health education materials in English and Spanish. The posters describe the signs of depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy and address the misconception that for all women, pregnancy and new motherhood can only be "the happiest time of your life." In addition, the action plan helps moms identify when and where to seek help, and the conversation starter postcard, specifically designed for a mom's support system, offers suggestions for communicating with a loved one about this issue.