Please post and distribute May 15, 2014
Message from René G. Santiago
Sixty-five years ago, May was designated as Mental Health Month to raise awareness about mental illnesses and the importance of mental wellness for all. Did you know that nearly 1-in-5 Americans over the age of 18 will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year? Nearly half of them will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Another important fact: more people die from suicide than from homicide in Santa Clara County. In 2013, there were 149 suicides and 56 homicides in Santa Clara County. The people who died from suicide came from every city in our county, all income levels, and a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The ages of people who died from suicide ranged from 15 years old to 93 years old. Every death is tragic, but we know when it comes to suicide, these deaths are preventable.
From research and from experience, it is clear that mental health is integral to a person’s overall health and that there is “no health without mental health.” With effective services and treatment, individuals with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive lives. The Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System (SCVHHS) is working to integrate prevention and treatment approaches across the Mental Health Department, Department of Alcohol & Drug Services (DADS) and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Through our services, we help those struggling with mental health disorders and addictions get the care they need in safe and stable environments. By treating the physical and behavioral health needs of our patients and clients, we can improve the individual’s overall health.
In raising awareness, we need to let people know they are not alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 4 in every 10 cases of disability are directly attributed to mental disorders like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is also estimated that twice as many women (12 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder.
If we really want to improve the health of our community and help our residents live well, we must continue to address mental health and addiction disorders, as well as enhance the services we provide. By having the Mental Health Department and DADS come together as a new Behavioral Health Services Department, we can be more effective in providing services and be better positioned as the provider of choice for these services.
Providing for the continuum of care is essential to helping people realize their road to recovery. The establishment of the Behavioral Health Services Department is one of the ways we will realize our SCVHHS vision of Better Health for All.