Mental illness in Idaho. Nearly one in five adults in the US lives with, and suffers from, a debilitating mental illness of one kind or another.
And as much as we might like to think that this disturbing condition only affects people in faraway places, the truth is that here in Idaho, we’re definitely not immune. In fact, our state consistently ranks distressingly high in terms of suicide rates, in some years landing as much as 50% higher than the national average.
Emotional wellness and psychological care are major health concerns within Madison County and the surrounding area. Our large population of college students, which is a boon for the community in terms of economics and cultural impact, also results in a significant, ongoing need for behavioral health support systems. A recent community needs assessment survey concluded that mental healthcare was the single most critical issue for the region, one which current resources, while excellent, have not been able to adequately address.
Indeed, Madison Memorial Hospital’s emergency department receives more than 400 mental-health-related visits annually, many from individuals struggling with suicidal ideation. Of these, more than 150 end up getting transported to inpatient service centers specializing in behavioral health, located in places like Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise, and even as far away as Salt Lake City.
The emergency department is equipped with tele-psych evaluation services through HCA Healthcare, and our excellent social services team coordinates patient care with the amazing counselors and therapists that already live in the community. In spite of these things, the county and surrounding communities have had, up to now, only limited access to actual, credentialed psychiatric professionals.
That has now changed.
The beginnings of an idea. Several years ago, the administrative team at Madison Memorial Hospital took the initiative, meeting multiple times with the hospital’s board of trustees, to outline the beginnings of a plan for a new behavioral health unit (BHU), one which would be locally-based, operating within the main hospital building itself. Careful planning ensued, requiring a large amount of analysis, recruitment, and architectural design.
The end result of this extensive groundwork was the announcement of a new, 12-bed behavioral health unit at Madison Memorial, built both to address the growing need for local psychiatric care, as well as to serve as a supplement to the outstanding mental health services already existing in the community.
Schafer Consulting, the University of Utah Health-Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), JRW & Associates, and a dedicated team at Madison Memorial worked together for more than a year in the planning phase for the creation of the new unit, which opened in September 2021.
The BHU at Madison Memorial consists of a 12-bed, crisis-stabilizing facility for adults 18 and over. The average patient stay is approximately seven days, with the age of the average patient around 26 years. The state-of-the-art facility includes a breakfast nook area, a walled outdoors section, a large reception desk, multiple staff offices, and twelve licensed, certified patient beds.
Two new psychiatrists. Dr. Jim McCoy, MD, is one of two full-time psychiatrists who have joined the Madison Memorial staff, spearheading the new BHU and receiving and treating patients. He received his medical degree from Texas A&M, performing his four-year residency at the University of Utah healthcare system.
Dr. McCoy works closely with Dr. James Morris, MD, who received his medical degree and performed his subsequent residency at the University of Utah.
Drs. McCoy and Morris are working together to establish a greater presence in southeastern Idaho for the training of future psychiatric professionals, collaborating with the University of Utah and Idaho State University to ultimately set up a program to facilitate it.
Answering a community need. The new BHU at Madison Memorial is a great asset to the community, meeting a long-recognized need.
Madison Memorial Hospital, a 69 bed, full-service medical facility, is the only self-sustaining, county-owned, non-critical-access hospital in the state of Idaho. It’s a premier, regional healthcare facility serving five counties in the region. It’s comprised of an outstanding administrative staff and healthcare professionals who are dedicated to providing quality care to every patient.
We couldn’t be more pleased to announce the upcoming grand opening of this newest addition to our organization.
When searching the literature on mental health, it is difficult to find a straightforward definition of mental wellness. Instead, we define its absence.
Although many adults do not fit snugly into descriptions of depression and anxiety, depressive symptoms and behaviors that identify anxiety are seen in many people. Unfortunately, even if these adults recognize their depressive symptoms and feelings of anxiety, and even if low-cost treatment were available around the corner, the stigma of mental illness inhibits many of them from seeking help.
Depressive symptoms affect the quality and enjoyment of life. Depressed people tend to exercise less, smoke more and eat less healthily. Sixty to 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from depression.
Mental wellness can be influenced by:
• Biological factors – changes in the central nervous system, medications, illnesses and family history
• Social environment – losses, traumatic events, stress and low economic status
Mental wellness is promoted through:
• Physical activity
• Good nutrition
• Adequate rest and sleep
• Stress reduction
• An optimistic attitude that can include humor, creativity, and faith
• Optimal medication management
• Emotionally enriched environments
For people to savor their later years, maintaining mental wellness is an essential charge, both for themselves and for those who work with them.
What Are Barriers to Mental Wellness?
Many barriers may hamper detecting any type of depression or anxiety in adults and may result in under-reporting the seriousness of symptoms. These include:
Age-related Changes – Signs of depression look like changes that are often misconstrued as a normal part of aging such as reduced activity level, reduced appetite, changes in sleep patterns, or stooped posture.
Illness – Physical illness can mask depression and depression can mimic physical ailments, often leading to misdiagnosis. If depression and/or anxiety coexists with a physical illness, it often worsens or complicates the physical problem.
Attitudes of Others – Signs of depression and/or anxiety may be dismissed because of stereotypical beliefs about people – for example, defining them as “difficult” or irritable, forgetful, complaining about their health, or appearing sad.
Denial – Having grown up in a time when “toughing things out” was the approved remedy, older adults may deny their depressed feelings as signs of seeming weak or crazy.
Alcohol or Drugs – Some people in late life turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with losses. Because these substances can slow the central nervous system, their consumption can intensify depression – and can be lethal in some treatments of depression and anxiety. If you suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, you should seek help from treatment.
Health Complaints – Some adults tend to somatic – complain about physical problems, rather than talk about emotional pain. Complaints may center on problems with weakness, constipation, abdominal pains, chest pains or other vague symptoms disguising the underlying depression.
Stigma – As long the stigma of mental illness remains, the difficulty of identifying the disorders in adults and providing them with proper care will remain a significant barrier to their ability to reach mental wellness.