Health Care Day Shows the Challenges and Opportunities Surrounding Mental Health

Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 Americans are affected by mental health conditions each year?
  • Serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year?
  • The overall suicide rate has increased 31% since 2001?

On Health Care Day Feb. 6, the Class of 2020 developed a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of mental health and the impact that has on our society. They examined the stigma surrounding mental illness, learned about the challenges faced by the healthcare system and heard from individuals about their own mental health struggles.

Both Dr. Thomas Smyth, President and CEO of the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, opened the day, followed by Virginia Jump, CRNP, Clinical Program Leader at the hospital’s Cancer Institute Wellness and Support Center, who lead the class in a meditation exercise.

One of the most powerful elements of Health Care Day was NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore’s “In Our Own Voice” program. The class watched a video of people talking about their mental illnesses, interspersed with two NAMI volunteers speaking about their own experiences. Thank you to Kathleen Lyon and Amber Barnett for sharing their stories with the class.

In the afternoon, Dr. Gregory Branch, Director and Health Officer of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, gave an overview of the department, with a focus on mental health. Using details from actual cases from the department, Dr. Branch demonstrated the difficulties mental illness can cause and the ethical dilemmas the department faces when deciding cases.

During the day, the class toured both the Cancer Institute Wellness and Support Center with Virginia Jump and the Emergency Department with Elizabeth Nash, Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department and Stroke Program. The class even got to visit a newly opened portion of the ED designed for patients who came in for mental illnesses and are awaiting beds in other locations.

Thanks to the Class of 2020’s Health Care Day planning team: Mitch Clay, University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center; Erica Kimmel, DPR Construction; Tina Kummelman, Erickson Living – Oak Crest; and Julie Maneen, CareFirst for such a thought-provoking day.

And big thanks to their alumni coaches: Christie Ryan, LBC ’15 with Y in Central Maryland and Wanda Lessner, LBC ’18 with CareFirst.

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