Goal Statement: The goal of my Social Change Portfolio is to prevent increased psychiatric hospitalizations by reducing the stigma associated with mental health through education, awareness, and resources.
Significant Findings: Sangamon County ranks in the worst 25% of Illinois counties in terms of hospitalizations due to mental health in people 18 years and older (Springfield Memorial Hospital, 2021). There were 7,483 preventable hospitalizations among Black people recorded in 2020, compared with 3,696 white people (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2018). The social-ecological model shows the tremendous impact that individual relationships, community and society have on the issue of psychiatric hospitalizations, and the application of Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) can be an effective approach to preventing psychiatric hospitalizations in Sangamon County.
Objectives/Strategies/Interventions/Next Steps: Partnerships between health care providers and local health departments (LHDs) can address the root causes of poor mental health by improving mental health care access and reducing social stigma (Chen et al., 2018). A starting point for intervention is pinpointing mental health professionals and other individuals who can be trained to work with populations at risk for mental health issues. One existing evidence-based mental health awareness training program that could be implemented is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Additionally, an effective strategy at the institutional level may be initiating an institute-wide campaign in a church that serves the most at-risk populations (specifically, predominantly Black neighborhoods) in order to bring awareness to mental health and promote available resources. A community level strategy is developing an outreach initiative involving members of at-risk communities who have successfully overcome the stigma by seeking mental health assistance. At the public policy level, a task force could be created with the goal of advocating and lobbying for improved mental health laws and policies, including increased funding for mental health programs, more mental health provisions added to healthcare reforms, and stronger protection regarding mental health in the workplace.