AHCJ wrapped up its first-ever Mental Health Summit on Thursday night, with speakers highlighting the strain the pandemic has placed on many Americans, especially young people, and highlighting speakers who outlined solutions for a mental health care system that leaves the needs of many unattended people.
The summit featured three featured speakers who emphasized the seriousness of the mental health situation and barriers to care, why traditional treatments don’t work, and what is being done in Congress to help fix what Keynote Speaker Vikram Patel , MD, called a broken mental disorder. “It’s failing,” Patel told attendees, while presenting data showing that despite massive US spending on mental health care, key measures show no improvement or decline in mental health for Americans.
Patel presented his vision for a community-based approach to care that teaches lay people to provide short-term intervention in places, including in the US, where mental health care is scarce or non-existent.
Bessel van der Kolk, MD, professor of psychiatry and founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass., And author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Body Keeps the Score,” spoke earlier this week in a similar vein. . “Our diagnostic system is in shambles,” he said during a question-and-answer session on Tuesday. Despite advances in psychotherapeutic drugs, he said, the data shows that there are more people depressed now than in 1972. “We really need to explore how we can change the mind,” said van der Kolk, whose work focuses on addressing trauma to through the body.
Representative Katie Porter, Member of the US House of Representatives, District 45, the keynote speaker on Wednesday, spoke on a particular aspect of the US mental health care system that desperately needs change: intersection between mental health and the criminal justice system. He spoke about the promise of the recently introduced Mental Health Justice Act, a bill that would create mental health responders who can be dispatched in a mental health crisis rather than involve law enforcement whose interventions overly they often result in injury or death to people struggling with mental illness.
A look at some panels
The summit, sponsored by the Icahn / Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was packed with sessions covering a wide range of topics, from maternal mental health and the use of psilocybin and MDMA in PTSD and other situations to burnout among nurses and doctors and the promise of mental health technology.
Here are some highlights.
On Monday, John Ackerman, Ph.D., clinical child psychologist and suicide prevention coordinator, at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, spoke about the intersecting roles between journalism and suicide prevention. suicide. “Representing suicide responsibly is important,” he said. “Research suggests that certain aspects of suicide reports may increase suicide.” Unsafe reports can lead to a dangerous phenomenon: the contagion of suicides, he warned attendees.
Iola Kostrzewski, a doula in Minnesota, told participants Tuesday that mental health conversations need to happen before “you have that pregnant person sitting in front of you. We need to culturally address these issues after this person has given birth. “She also explained the important role doulas play in advocating for patients, especially women or people of color, who are more likely to die in childbirth. than their white counterparts.
During her presentation Wednesday on nurse burnout and compassion fatigue, Desiree Shin, a practicing ICU nurse, spoke about the shame she felt culturally and professionally for taking a month off to address her mental health needs. “There was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness,” she said, adding that she couldn’t sleep, was very depressed and anxious. One panelist explained how hospital reports have enabled nurses to unravel critical incidents, trauma staff experienced, and adverse events in a compassionate way.
On Thursday, the final panel at the summit shed light on Promising research on substances such as psilocybin (also known as “mushrooms” or “magic mushrooms”) and MDMA (also known as “Molly” or “ecstasy”) as potentially powerful therapeutic tools to treat mental health conditions such as brain disorder. post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.
“There is much hope and anticipation that the psychedelic treatment model may have something to offer to the mainstream of mental health care delivery,” said Charles S. Grob, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Faculty. of Medicine at UCLA and director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, adding that while these drugs may only be for a select group of people, researchers are adhering to strong safety parameters.
“This drug has remarkable potential and we could explore its application to a degree that its predecessors from generations ago did not.”
To see the full list of recordings, detailed summaries and photos from each session, visit AHCJ’s Web page “Recorded sessions”.