FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HIGHLIGHTING MENTAL HEALTH DURING MEN’S HEALTH MONTH
TUSTIN, Calif., June 16, 2022 – On average, men die five years earlier than women, and three times as many men compared to women die by suicide. Families Together of Orange County recognizes the link between mental health and physical health and is working to address the stigma surrounding mental health for all men in the community.
At nonprofit community health center, Families Together of Orange County, the Behavioral Health Department sees a variety of patients from all walks of life, but only 30% of those seeking counseling or mental health treatment are men. Furthermore, with 56% of the Behavioral Health department’s patients being Latino, only 16% of those seeking treatment are Latino men.
Yvette Visconte, Clinical Director of Mental Health for Families Together says:
“At Families Together, we work to break down the barriers to essential services such as counseling and mental health treatment for everyone in our community. However, it can be challenging to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, especially in Latin cultures.”
The community health center’s data reflects a similar and worrying reality for men across the country. Despite the prevalence of mental health needs, only 11% of U.S. men have sought out mental health treatment or counseling from 2002-2020. This is compared to 22% of U.S. women, and perhaps a symptom of the underlying stigma surrounding mental health in men.
At Families Together, the Behavioral Health department works hand in hand with Medical providers to address symptoms of mental health concerns in patients. In this integrated health model, Medical providers alert the organization’s mental health specialists when a patient may need a consultation. For many people of color, data shows that this approach is more likely to lead to a successful hand off, where the patient is more open to mental health services. The integrated health model at Families Together has helped 30 individuals get treated for medical and mental health concerns in less than a year.
While factors such as lifestyle choices and diet can lead to some of the main causes of death among men, including heart disease, the importance of mental health cannot be neglected when addressing overall health in men. In fact, mental health can play a significant role in those lifestyle choices.
Ms. Visconte comments:
“People who are battling with mental health will sometimes engage in maladaptive coping mechanisms such as smoking, not exercising, forgetting to take their medication, drug use, and other behaviors which can increase the risk of health problems. So, as an organization, we make sure to all work together to help give the best treatment to each patient, and whenever a medical provider suspects that the patient should be seen by our Behavioral Health Department, it’s an easy transition right on-site.”
With culturally competent and Spanish speaking staff, Families Together has found that a majority of those who are referred, including men, are open to counseling. In many cases, it is an option that they would not have sought out themselves were it not for the referral of their Primary Care Provider.
By finding ways to address the stigma surrounding mental health for men, especially those in communities of color, there is an opportunity to improve the overall health of all men. The integrated health model at Families Together of Orange County is one solution that could be used as a model for health centers across the country.
About Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center
Since 2003, Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center (FTOC) has proudly served the Orange County community with a myriad of health services while providing a welcoming, multi-lingual and patient – centered medical home to all. FTOC is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, FQHC look-alike, a member of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and the California Primary Care Association.
Please visit www.familiestogetheroc.org for more information on Families Together of Orange County and for the latest updates.