The Center for Family Intervention Science is a goldmine for resources and science in the area of suicide prevention and treatment. The work Guy Diamond, PhD, the Center's director, is critical and Diamond's and the Center's faculty are helping to improve provider's knowledge and comfort with mental health issues. He wrote a recent email as a response to the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
The tragic news of two celebrities, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, taking their own lives has left us shocked and confused. How could such passionate people with so much opportunity decide to take their life? We may never understand the pain they must have felt, but we can help others who might have similar feelings find alternatives to death.
As many of you know, my work has focused on suicide prevention and treatment. We run a small program for youth, young adults and college students who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. We also work in medical settings doing suicide prevention. The integration of behavioral health services into primary care and emergency room settings has become a national agenda. Mental health problems impede adherence to medical treatment and can be debilitating in and of themselves. Surprisingly few behavioral health resources exist for medical providers.
Faculty at The Center for Family Intervention Science are trying to remedy this situation with a three part program. We developed a training program to help providers do risk assessments, safety planning and family engagement. These short trainings improve provider’s knowledge and comfort with mental health issues.
We have also developed a comprehensive, yet brief, web-based screening tool that patients can complete before or during the medical visit. This multidimensional screen goes beyond depression and measures a host of other psychiatric and risk factors including social determinants of health. A report is generated and printed or linked to the Electronic Medical Record.
The biggest challenge is where to refer patients identified as at-risk. To address this, we focus efforts on building partnerships and relationships with the behavioral health neighborhood.
We have implemented this program across Pennsylvania and several other states, resulting in increased identification and referral rates. We are working with Drexel Family Medicine to bring this program to Drexel.
With these, and other resources, medical staff of all disciplines can play an important role in the identification of patients with suicidal thoughts and other mental health challenges. Training ourselves and our students in these strategies could help us feel less powerless and help save lives. We are waiting for news on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funding that would help us disseminate these kinds of skills and resources across the University community. I will keep you posted!
For more information about our work or on this important topic, please contact Guy Diamond, PhD.
Diamond, G.S., Levy, S.A., Bevans, K.B., Fein, J.A., Wintersteen, M.B., Tien, A. &\Creed, T.A. (2010). Development, validation, and utility of the web-based Behavioral Health Screen for adolescents in ambulatory care. Pediatrics, 126(1), 163-170. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3272
Fein, J.A., Pailler, M.E., Frances K., Barg, F.K., Wintersteen, M.B., Hayes, K., Tien, A. & Diamond, G.S. (2010). Feasibility and effects of a web-based adolescent psychiatric assessment administered by clinical staff in the pediatric emergency department. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 164(12), 1112-1117. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.213