This year at the 5th National Conference on Health Communications, Marketing and Media, the visibility of behavioral health is higher than ever before. Not only is SAMHSA the co-chair of this year’s conference but there are multiple sessions discussing behavioral health communications.
This year’s conference theme – Listening for Change – frames the dialogue that SAMHSA is creating with the public. This dialogue, fueled by the revolution in health communications technology, is making citizen engagement the foundation for improving health and wellbeing. This conference is part of SAMHSA’s engagement strategy. By listening to each other we can be more effective in shaping change. Communications plays a vital role in the success of new health care delivery structures, adoption of health information technology, adoption of scientific advances in prevention, treatment and recovery support services, and implementation of health reform. The current need to address behavioral health needs are apparent and are only increasing.
- By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.
- Almost one fourth of all adult stays in U.S. community hospitals involve mental or substance use disorders.
- People with serious mental illness have shortened life spans compared to the general population, on average dying at age 53.
- Up to 83% of people with serious mental illness are overweight or obese.
- 44% of all cigarettes in US are consumed by individuals with a mental or substance use disorders.
The data shows that behavioral health is essential to health and there is much to be done. Communications is a critical part of success. By working together across agencies and disciplines with the public we can advance the health and well being of the nation by listening for change.
During the three days, make sure to follow @samhsagov on Twitter for live tweeting from Atlanta. Some of the panels to look out for during the three days are:
Tuesday, August 9th, 2:00 – 3:30 pm – Opening up Health Data and How to Make It Public Friendly
Learn about the efforts currently underway to make data publicly available via Data.gov and the Community Health Data Initiative. From there learn what efforts SAMHSA has taken in first making data publicly available and the next step in making data public friendly. Also go beyond the data and learn what health professionals are doing “on the ground” in terms of improving health in their communities through the use of social media.
Wednesday, August 10th, 1:15-2:45 pm – Promoting Integration of Behavioral Health Screening into Primary Care: Three Innovative Communications Approaches
Hear from experts in health care regarding the integration of behavioral health into primary care. Integration requires innovative approaches to helping physicians (and allied health care personnel in the “health home” now widely advocated as key to successful health reform) learn about and use simple, effective screening tools for identifying mental health and substance abuse problems.
Wednesday, August 10th, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm – Does Behavioral Health Have a Place in New Media?
Find out how people in the field have been using new media to connect to the behavioral health community on topics such as SAMHSA’s Recovery month, using mobile technology to address serious mental illness and smoking cessation, and how mental illness is portrayed on YouTube.
Thursday, August 11th, 8:00 – 9:30 am – Creating Positive Change in How America Thinks about Behavioral Health SAMHSA’s Communications Plan
Hear from SAMHSA leadership on this interview-style panel to explore how a strategic communications plan is leading SAMHSA’s move into the future – where behavioral health is fully integrated with health in the United States, and seen as such by the American public as well as providers and service recipients.