A voice for mental illness

mental health

According to Mental Health First Aid, 5% of adults in the United States, 18 and older, experience mental illness in any given year. That is equivalent to 43.8 million people with only 41% receiving professional care.

Unfortunately, many people living with mental illness are being blamed for their ailment. Constantly being told it’s a ‘phase’ or something they can control. Name-calling and discrimination are only a few of the horrendous acts fueling the overpowering stigma of mental illness. Sadly, this stigma can prevent people from seeking the help and treatment they need.

While it may seem that the stigma has lessened over the years, there’s still a long way to go to change the conversation and truly start to understand mental illness. At Parkview Behavioral Health (PBH), the goal is to end the mental health stigma and treat the whole person: body, mind and spirit. PBH believes that each person deserves compassionate care, unwavering hope and unconditional encouragement. Speaking up for patients in need can make all the difference. One voice can be a step in the right direction, but two voices are even better.

Mark O’Shaughnessy, MD, FACC, Parkview Heart Institute (PHI) and his wife, Laura are heavily involved within the Fort Wayne community and very passionate about seeing their hometown flourish. Growing up, they both understood the importance of giving back to the community and those in need. For the last several years, Dr. O’Shaughnessy has been working in the public safety arena offering physical health and cardiovascular screenings. There, the men and women in uniform, witness firsthand how mental illness is perceived and the culture accompanying it.

Knowing the stigma associated with mental illness, Mark and Laura also understand that the disease is not singular, it touches everyone including families, friends and communities. Sadly, even with this knowledge, no one is willing to talk about it. Often viewed as a sickness that can spread, Mark and Laura knew more needed to be done to assist those suffering from mental illness.

Blessed with the means to provide generous support to PBH, the O’Shaughnessy’s began their research. They spoke with experts and studied Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) in hopes of learning how to fight back against mental illness. In meeting with Michael Cortina, MSW, LCSW, LCAC, RRT, Chief Operating Officer for the Regional Mental Health Center in Merrillville, IN they did just that.

Through their efforts, they found that RRT helps by addressing the ongoing effects of anxiety, grief, abuse, sexual violence, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more. RRT is a short-term, fast-acting and emotionally calming therapy that works by empowering individuals on their personal path toward healing. Utilized by the United States Navy SEALS, RRT is a revolutionary therapy that can be completed in as little as one session or may take a series of therapy sessions depending on a patient’s needs.

“We’ve seen the testimonials and studied the research. Instead of someone spending months or years in therapy, RRT is proving to be highly successful. Some people reported that they felt relief from their mental struggles in as little as one session,” Dr. O’Shaughnessy explained.

This groundbreaking treatment shifts the way the mind processes information so improvements in thoughts, feelings and behaviors are natural and automatic allowing the patient to focus on the ultimate goal, leading a constructive and gratifying life.

The O’Shaughnessy’s saw an opportunity to change the culture and perception behind mental illness. By providing generous gifts of healing through Parkview Foundation they have been funding the RRT program at PBH for the last two years. However, to properly care for patients coping with trauma, PBH employees needed to be trained with the Trauma Recovery Program (TRP) first to reinforce RRT.

“The first year we focused on training therapists at PBH, but in this second year, it’s been great to see the progress. We’ve been able to provide additional training as a refresher to those from the previous year and now it’s spread to those outside of PBH and to therapists at our community hospitals, Park Center, and Parkview Primary Care offices. It’s amazing,” Paula Bostwick, Vice President, PBH Hospital said.

In addition to the many advantages for patients, Parkview Health’s own employees are benefiting from the training, as well. Members of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) were also provided training, further enhancing the counseling services offered to all Parkview Health employees and their family members.

With their simple act of generosity, Dr. and Laura O’Shaughnessy have provided hope to individuals, families and people they may never meet. Their acts of selflessness have radiated throughout our communities and hearts and will hopefully provide a different perspective going forward. Paula said it best with a final thought, “Without this gift from Dr. and Mrs. O’Shaughnessy, we would not have been able to provide training for our therapists and therapists in the community. This was not just a gift to Parkview, but to our community and the patients we serve.”

For more information and additional mental health resources go to Lookup Indiana. To support Parkview Health’s patients through generosity, visit ParkviewFoundations.org.

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