For too long, mental illness has been stigmatized, talked about in family circles, if at all. With the creation of the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center, UW Medicine is taking the conversation into the open. Because there is no health without mental health.
Lisa Lovejoy, who received care at Harborview and now works for the hospital, is looking forward to the advances the institute will bring. “With Harborview’s help, I’ve taken back my life,” said Lovejoy.
Roughly a third of the population experiences a mental health disorder or substance-use disorder at some point during their lives. Depression alone causes 10 percent of all health-related disability (more than heart disease, diabetes or cancer). But only 2 out of 10 people living with a mental health or substance-use problem will see a mental health professional in any given year.
“There is much more that we need to do,” said Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Jürgen Unützer, M.D., MPH, M.A. “We can see this when we look at our communities, our cities and even our own families. We need to do better.”
With the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview, Unützer and his colleagues aim to change these statistics: to expand programs and open new doors, so more people have access to effective behavioral health care. They want to create solutions: to do more research to develop better treatments. They want to train and inspire mental health care professionals, and they want to drive dialogue — to have an even stronger voice in the community to advocate for awareness and policy change.
With the help of a thoughtful, inspired people — with the help of generous readers like you — a benefit held on Nov. 3 garnered $9.2 million for mental health in our community. Part of the proceeds of will help create the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute.
“I can’t wait to see what the institute does for the larger community,” said Lovejoy.