Focus Areas

WUMH works with many other organizations, businesses, and government entities.  At this time our the following areas are our main areas of focus. Click on the tabs below to read a brief synopsis of the issues and click on the large blue buttons provided to learn more. Through our work on these topics we have developed in-depth materials and identified many resources that are compiled on our website in the following areas:

  Mental Health in the Workplace  Mental Health in the Emergency Department  Prevention and Effects of Bullying

The workforce includes many individuals with psychiatric disabilities whose may be stigmatized and misunderstood. Despite their many contributions, employers and the public may discourage people who have a mental illness from fulfilling their career goals.

In fact, due in part to stigma and discrimination, the unemployment rate among people with serious and persistent mental illnesses is 90% -- far higher than the 50% unemployment rate among individuals with physical or sensorial disabilities. In other words, only 10% of individuals with persistent mental illnesses who want to work, and are able, are working.  Mental health conditions are the second leading cause of worksite absenteeism. Estimated costs for untreated and mistreated mental illness total approximately $150 billion in lost productivity each year in the U.S. and businesses pay up to $44 billion of this bill. Additionally there are indirect costs to employers such as absenteeism, work impairment, and disability benefits. However, the total health care costs for workers who receive treatment for depression are two-thirds less than the medical costs of untreated individuals (JOEM, 2005). Effective treatment potentially can save direct and indirect costs for employers and can improve quality of life for all employees.

WUMH Mental-Health Friendly Workplace Trainings

In 2011 WUMH launched a two-part multimedia educational series: Mental Health @ Work - a competitive advantage. Learn more about the modules and view them by visiting our Workplace Module page.  WUMH will continue to work with employers and employees to educate them about the importance of addressing mental health issues in the workplace.  You can learn more about our plans by reading: Building the Mentally Healthy Workplace A Strategic Plan from Mental Health America of Wisconsin, in partnership with The Alliance, the Business Healthcare Group, and WUMH.

Read more about our Workplace Initiative: Mental Health in the Workplace

In general, people with a mental illness have greater difficulty accessing healthcare, or receive inadequate care, compared to the general population.  Despite the strong evidence linking mental illness to increased physical morbidity and mortality, persons with a mental illness often report that in a variety of healthcare settings, their medical concerns are discounted and their physical symptoms are ignored or misattributed to a mental illness.

Progress and Future of the WUMH Emergency Department Initiative

A Summit was held on April 30, 2013.  This summit brought together stakeholders from EDs, mental health consumer, WUMH and others to discuss the concerns, learn about possible solutions and determine next steps.  The next steps include:

  1. Developing a local community pilot round-table session which will be a local version of the April 2013 state-wide summit held at Rogers Hospital in Oconomowoc. From the pilot, we hope to refine a round-table ‘approach’ that can be readily used in multiple communities with the aim of convening various stakeholders to better understand the ER needs of persons with a mental illness, to identify he challenges of emergency room personnel in care provision and discharge planning, and explore how to evaluate and improve ER best practices.
  2. Determining the effective use of peer specialists and the dissemination of research findings regarding care to persons with a mental illness in an ER setting.
  3. Identify or create a set of best practice protocols for how ED’s can respond to individuals with mental illnesses presenting at their facility,  i.e. a checklist.
  4. Develop training materials for EDs.  Reformat the consumer video used at the original Summit as a stand-alone piece that could be used in dialogues and training.

Learn more: Physical and Mental Health are Linked

Read more about our Emergency Department Initiative: Improving Care for Persons with Mental Illnesses in the Emergency Department Setting

Grade-school children with serious emotional disturbances have the highest rates of school failure because of the discrimination and stigma associated with these disorders. Fifty percent of these students drop out of high school, compared to 30 percent of all students with disabilities. Mental health awareness by everyone in the classroom may increase acceptance and understanding of people with mental illnesses, decrease the negative attitudes that are oftentimes attached to mental health problems, and lead to treatment for youth with mental health disorders.

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn. Depending on the environment, some groups—such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youth—may be at an increased risk of being bullied. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.

An assessment tool is currently being created for Wisconsin schools to help determine if appropriate programs are in place.

Learn more about the Prevention and Effects of Bullying (WUMH)

Mental Health Issues in Youth  (WUMH Ages & Stages Page)

Faith-based communities often contribute to recovery by promoting hope and by offering solace and comfort in troubled times; and many consumers acknowledge the positive impact of spirituality and faith on their recovery and ability to cope with life's stresses. However, not all faith-based organizations are equally knowledgeable about how best to serve people with mental health disorders.

Mental Health Ministries (an organization that strives to erase the stigma of mental illnesses)

Pathways to Promise (an interfaith technical assistance and resource center which offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information to promote a caring ministry with people with mental illness and their families. These resources are used by people at all levels of faith group structures from local congregations to regional and national staff.)

FaithNet (web site for a network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

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