SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Optum is teaming up with community partners in San Diego to help people recognize the warning signs of suicide or a mental health crisis, and learn about resources available to help people in need.
Mental health issues are real, common and treatable. In San Diego, one in five adults experience a mental illness in a given year, and one in four young adults ages 18-24 has a diagnosable mental illness. The suicide rate in San Diego County increased over the past five years, from 12 to 14 per 100,000, which is significantly higher than the national rate of 12.6 per 100,000. In 2013, 441 San Diego County residents took their own life.
To help address these important issues, Optum San Diego and the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council are sponsoring six training courses in May to teach San Diegans about issues surrounding mental health, suicide prevention, detecting common signs and symptoms, and how to respond.
“It’s critical that we learn to talk about mental health,” said Michael Bailey, M.D., medical director of Optum San Diego. “These training courses and public service announcements will serve as a springboard to increase awareness about these important issues and the resources available to help.”
Optum is producing public service announcements for radio and social media to raise awareness about these important issues. The messages are available in English and Spanish to encourage all San Diegans to take advantage of local support resources, including the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240. Operated by Optum, this free, 24/7 resource serves as a suicide prevention/intervention hotline. It also provides mental health crisis intervention, information and referral to mental health services in San Diego County in more than 150 languages.
The six training sessions include three one-hour Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention courses on simple steps that people can learn to help save a life from suicide.
Three versions of the eight-hour Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course, designed to teach participants how to recognize the most common signs of mental illness and substance use disorders, and the steps they can take to help someone get professional support, are also available. A youth MHFA course will be offered Friday, May 1 to educate parents, families, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, and health and human services workers how to help an adolescent (ages 12-18) who may be experiencing a mental health, addictions challenge or is in crisis. The original MHFA course will be offered in Spanish Thursday, May 28; another version developed specifically for veterans, service members, their families, and people who work them will be available Friday, May 29.
“Mental health disorders are real medical conditions, and are as equally important to address as physical ailments,” said Alfredo Aguirre, MSW, director of Behavioral Health for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s up to us to help recognize the signs and offer support and treatment for people who are suffering.”
To sign up for one of the free training sessions, or to learn more about resources available locally, including the 24-hour Access & Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240, visit www.optumhealthsandiego.com.
About Optum San Diego
Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. Since 1997, Optum San Diego has worked in close partnership with San Diego County to administer behavioral health services and help ensure that Medicaid members have access to the care they need.
About the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council
The San Diego Suicide Prevention Council is a community-wide collaborative focused on realizing a vision of zero suicides in San Diego County. Its mission is to prevent suicide and its devastating consequences in San Diego County.