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Managing Mental Health in Primary Care conference

Building Bridges to Prevent People from ‘Jumping Off’ Bridges

Suicide prevention, treatment options among the themes of mental health conference

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Written by Bob Mook on September 1, 2022

Kevin Hines’ life certainly should have ended the day he threw himself off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Fortunately, he had a revelation the millisecond he took the jump and lived to tell his story with the mission of educating and inspiring others on what literally pushed him to the edge and what he’s learned through surviving.

Now a best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker and wellness coach, Hines will share his harrowing and hopeful experience in a keynote presentation at the first annual Managing Mental Health in Primary Care conference, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2022. The conference aims to equip advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, physicians, mental health counselors and other providers with resources for identifying and treating common issues that their patients might be facing.

“I want them to learn what a back story of a person with severe mental illness can be like,” he says of the upcoming keynote. “To understand that many of us come from serious trauma, troubled infancies and total heartache. I want them to understand that we are people first and nameless patient/consumers never.”

Despite his success, Hines says he is “recovering daily – like one would from substance use and misuse.” He hopes that his message will touch and inspire people and make a difference.

About the conference

Hosted by the University of Colorado College of Nursing and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the conference will feature potentially life-saving information from Hines as well as an impressive array of national and local speakers and mental health experts.

CU College of Nursing Continuing Education Program Director Ann Froese-Fretz, MS, RN, CNS, CPNP-PC, says the two-day hybrid event is designed to call out the most urgent issues in mental health care.

“If you are a primary care provider, or even a specialist, we want you to at least be comfortable in providing interim assistance for those who are experiencing severe depression or anxiety,” Froese-Fretz says. “The main goal is to keep your patients safe by providing a bridge from primary care to mental health care.”

With statistics showing suicide rates steadily climbing since the beginning of the millennium, much of the Day One activities are focused on suicide prevention. The Sept. 30 agenda includes an examination on why people kill themselves, a session that provides tools for providers to develop “suicide-safe” primary care and a panel discussion on suicide among youth.

Day 2 topics include treating substance-use disorders, an overview on pharmacogenomics and psychiatric medications, a presentation on cannabis and mental health and a closing keynote on mental health legislation.

Why the mental health focus?

Anecdotally and statistically, it’s clear that mental health systems are strained in Colorado and nationwide. The crisis has been exacerbated in light of the social isolation, economic insecurity and health uncertainty that characterized the pandemic in recent years.

Nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. and 23% of adults in Colorado are experiencing a mental illness, according to recent statistics from Mental Health America. Data from the International Committee of the Red Cross shows that 51% of adults perceive that COVID-19 negatively affected their mental health. Meanwhile, psychologist referrals effectively doubled from 2020 to 2021, says the American Psychological Association.

To compound these daunting statistics, the Health and Resources Services Administration projects that there will be a shortage of 12,530 adult psychiatrists to meet the demand of behavioral health disorders by 2030.

Amid the mental health fallout from the pandemic and diminishing resources, the onus of providing behavioral health often can seem like it rests on primary care providers who could benefit from learning more about how they can best serve their patients’ needs.

Froese-Fretz says the timing is optimal for the conference because providers have a greater awareness of behavioral health than ever before.

“In healthcare, it’s important to consider more than the physical health of a person,” she says. “Mental health really impacts physical health, so you can’t treat one without thinking about the other.”

Register now

Managing Mental Health in Primary Care Details / RegistrationThe conference will be held at the Anschutz Health Sciences Building, 1890 N. Revere Court. Zoom will be available for those unable to attend in person. Continuing education credits are available.

Keynote and Special Guest Speakers


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