While a joyful time for many people, the holiday season is often regarded as a challenging time of year for those individuals struggling with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or exacerbating feelings of isolation. Across the Partners HealthCare System, we’re working hard to ensure that our patients receive comprehensive mental health care—now, and every day of the year.

Ending the stigma around mental health

Indeed, narratives like the one recently published by Boston Herald reporter Lindsay Kalter, who received treatment at McLean Hospital, remind us just how pervasive—and consuming—these conditions can be in those among us.

Kalter’s story speaks to the power of opening a dialogue around mental health issues. That is the aim of McLean’s “Deconstructing Stigma” campaign, which includes an exhibit at Logan Airport highlighting the personal stories of those suffering with psychiatric disorders. Additional efforts throughout Partners endeavor to both raise the profile and elevate the care of these conditions.

Expanding our capacity for inpatient care

At North Shore Medical Center, a $5 million grant from Arthur J. Epstein will open the doors of a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to mental health care at the Salem site of the former Spaulding Hospital North Shore in fall 2019. The 111,000-square foot mental health center, which celebrated a construction milestone in September with a topping-off ceremony, will be named for Epstein, a philanthropist who serves on the medical center’s board. It will consolidate and enhance behavioral health care at NSMC, adding 24 beds for a total of 90 psychiatric health beds for adult, pediatric, and geriatric patients, and expanding the region’s mental health care capacity by 36 percent.

Rethinking drug trials

This type of care will be augmented by continued research aimed at uncovering the biological mechanisms of mental health disorders and better tailoring treatments for those who suffer from them. In one such research pathway at Massachusetts General Hospital, a groundbreaking trial of the drug ketamine was found to produce rapid relief for subjects with severe depression. Commonly known as a recreational drug, ketamine could offer hope for patients with intractable depression symptoms—a third of whom may not respond to currently available drugs—and could ultimately save lives.

These are just a few of the initiatives that Partners are spearheading with the goal of including mental health care in all patient treatment. We will continue to cover these system-wide efforts in future Connect with Partners blog posts.

Image credit: Deconstructing Stigma website

Topics: Patient Experience, Clinical Trials, Access to Care

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