Each year, calendars are filled with awareness campaigns for things like cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses. Still, for patients struggling with addictions or mental illnesses such as depression, every day is an awareness day.
LifeBrite CEO Christian Fletcher recently commented on the need to treat mental and behavioral health like any other medical issue. In an interview with ThriveGlobal, he noted the stigma associated with mental health treatment in the United States and expressed hope that “the general public will also begin to understand that mental illness is no more a matter of choice than poor vision, Type 1 diabetes, or a broken bone.”
Taking steps forward in recognition of mental and behavioral health needs
In 2008, President Bush signed the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008, which mandated that insurance companies must treat mental health equally with other illnesses when providing for treatment. While the bill was a significant step forward in recognition of mental and behavioral health needs, access to treatment—especially in rural areas—has often been difficult.
LifeBrite recognizes the need to serve smaller communities and rural areas. It is our main focus as a healthcare provider.
Stokes county was recently listed as a high-risk area for opioid addiction. Of the 412 counties listed as high-risk nationally, 41 were located in North Carolina.
“I think there is a lot more the system and healthcare providers can do to meaningfully address the U.S. opioid epidemic,” said Fletcher in the interview with ThriveGlobal. “More than 16,000 Americans die each year of unintentional opioid overdoses, and with access to genetic testing and precision medicine, providers can now better understand how patients both react to these drugs as well as monitor patient use.”
Precision medicine, like the specialized testing done by LifeBrite Labs, is one way Fletcher sees the company making an impact in opioid treatment. Recognizing biological traits can help doctors prescribe better alternative medications for high-risk patients. Doctors at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes have participated in research panel discussions on the epidemic and continue to promote mental health awareness throughout the year.
Making mental health care more accessible
Depression is another issue at the cross-section of mental health and general health treatment. In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death in college-age adults and one of the leading causes of death in every age demographic. Yet, access to care is still limited due to a lack of professionals in the field. Access to care can be near impossible to find in many rural areas of the country. Unfortunately, suicide rates in rural areas outpace other parts of the country.
Mental health professionals advise people having suicidal thoughts to call for emergency help or go to the closest emergency room where doctors can help locate proper treatment. LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes is a full-service healthcare facility equipped with emergency care services. The hospital is also a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), which works as part of a statewide network allowing the people of Stokes county access to a wide range of specialists.
In March, there are days set aside for alcohol and drug awareness, and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There are days in September for suicide awareness, but LifeBrite encourages you to make every day a mental health day.
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.