Douglas County health care agencies are collaborating to build an integrated system of care that moves from crisis and illness as a norm to recovery and prevention as a practice.
To achieve that vision, the Douglas County Health Leadership Coalition (HLC) has identified several priorities and initiatives to implement evidence-based prevention strategies that address challenges such as substance abuse, suicide, mental illness, and childhood trauma.
Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems, and also a specific set of tools and strategies. It is both a concept and a practice. Its core propositions are that suicide deaths for people under care are preventable, and that the bold goal of zero suicides among persons receiving care is an aspirational challenge that health systems should accept.
The Zero Suicide approach aims to improve care and outcomes for individuals at risk of suicide in health care systems. It represents a commitment to patient safety — the most fundamental responsibility of health care —and also to the safety and support of clinical staff, who do the demanding work of treating and supporting suicidal patients.
Douglas County, in partnership with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and Kansas Department of Health and Environment, will provide for free the MyStrength app to Douglas County residents. MyStrength offers individuals support for managing depression, anxiety, stress, sleep and other health issues. It also allows users to set health goals and track their changes over time.
Sonia Jordan, director of Informatics at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said people often can be afraid to seek help due to stigma surrounding behavioral health issues. “The availability of something like myStrength and the ability for people to download it to use on their phones means they don’t have to worry about that — at least for that initial step of trying to manage some of their mental health needs,” Jordan said. “They don’t have to get in their car and drive somewhere. They can start to access this treatment from their phone in private.”
Douglas County is providing $19,500 this year for myStrength through a quarter-cent sales tax voters approved in November to improve behavioral health services and facilities in the county. Douglas County and the health agencies plan to roll out the myStrength app this summer.
DCCCA will build on the work it has done at the state and regional level to engage key stakeholders and community members in a series of initiatives designed to proactively address opioid issues in Douglas County. As the lead agency in these initiatives DCCCA will:
- Convene an Opioid Summit
- Provide ongoing virtual and small group training options for prescribers
- Engage local pharmacies in a safe medication disposal project