This year, COVID-19 has pushed emotional wellness and self-care topics to the forefront. Unemployment, self-isolation, remote schooling and uncertainty of one’s health or future is causing unprecedented anxiety and depression. Mental health awareness and suicide prevention is more important than ever.
As someone who has personally battled with depression and lost a friend to suicide, I know what it is like to suffer in silence. My friend always seemed happy, so their suicide was a surprise. I often wonder, “If I was more honest and vulnerable about my own depression, would the outcome have been different?”
Since then, it’s been my personal mission to bring more awareness to the topic of depression and suicide, and to help prevent it. One of the reasons I joined Elemeno Health is because the company is built by healthcare workers who support doctors and nurses on the frontlines. It’s not just about empowering staff to provide better patient care, but also about helping staff take better care of themselves, and each other.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of over 48,000 people, according to the CDC. Suicide is not easy to talk about. The stigma of depression and mental health keeps people from seeking help or sharing their stories. Loved ones feel uncomfortable or unqualified addressing their concerns. Suicide and depression are sensitive topics, and the conversations are always emotional and tricky. It’s no wonder why we avoid the subject.
Informing health professionals about the warning signs of suicide and training them on engagement and prevention techniques can make all the difference. Having the proper resources, such as assessment checklists and scripts, can guide frontline medical staff in identifying individuals at risk, facilitating conversations, and connecting patients with appropriate support.
As a patient, I credit my recovery to my primary care physician. Starting the conversation was hard, but I was impressed by her empathy, tactful questions, and how she listened without judgement. We collaborated on treatments ranging from diet and exercise, to therapy and medication. Knowing she is on my side and treating me as a whole person—both physically and mentally—made all the difference in my health and well-being.
Elemeno Health supports a number of hospitals, Emergency Departments (ED), Clinics, and county social service agencies with customized point-of-care resources to identify and assist individuals at risk of depression or suicide:
- Alameda County Care Connect provides resources for Care Coordinators and community health workers to assist patients in the field. Items include “What To Do If Your Client Is In A Mental Health Crisis” and links to a mobile crisis team flyer. A Behavioral Health and Case Management Roster provides contact information and mental health resources of 23 support centers to serve the adult, youth, outpatient, homeless and native language populations of Alameda.
- Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO) provides training and content to their nurses through their ASQ (Ask Suicide Questions) Screening Navigator in Elemeno Health to identify pediatric patients who may be at risk of suicide. Resources also include an ASQ Decision Guide, Brief Suicide Safety Assessment (BSSA), Scripts for Nursing Staff, Treatment Response and Handoff instructions.
- Children’s Hospital of New Orleans (CHNOLA) uses Elemeno Health to share a document of their hospital’s suicide protocol policy for their ED and PICU medical teams.
- A Mental Health Resources/Self Care resource guide can be viewed or downloaded as part of the UCSF’s COVID Community Resources. Compiled by the Zuckerberg San Francisco General (ZSFG) UCSF Community it contains links to print-outs, online resources and contact information to services and clinics.
To see how Elemeno Health delivers mental health resources to frontline teams, sign up for a demo.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.