National Institutes of Health (NIH) Educational Speaker Series
Kimmo Virtaneva, a researcher at NIH, and his wife, Monica, shared their story of their son, Mika, who was diagnosed last year with paranoid schizophrenia and who tragically completed suicide last fall. Through the support of the institute director, Dr. Steve Holland, Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) was given permission to develop a lecture series focusing on Mental Health. This series was intended to educate employees but it was decided these topics would be of broad interest and RML received approval to share the expertise with the community.
- Role of RML: RML is a part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Health. The mission of NIAID and RML is to do research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. RML can assistant community stakeholders in accessing the resources through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. RML can bring in expert speakers to talk about research in mental illness and related topics, which aligns with their role of educating the community about science and public health. RML cannot fund grants or programs for community groups or other agencies, become involved with political, policy or religious activities, or share programs and information that is designed specifically for RML/NIH employees.
- Role of NIAID: It is not the intention to provide specific medical advice or endorse any specific approaches. Instead, NIAID provides information to help people better understand their health, diagnosed conditions, and the current approaches related to treatment, prevention, screening and supportive care. NIH urges people to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and answers to their personal medical questions.
M.I.K.A. Community Discussions
Community members, agencies and organizations have come together to discuss efforts regarding Mental Illness outside of the educational series offered by NIH. Katelyn Andersen, MSU Extension Agent for Ravalli County, is serving as the community liaison for RML and the M.I.K.A. Community Discussions Facilitator in collaboration Beth Fischer, Deputy Chief of the Research Technologies Branch at RML. As the facilitator, she will help stakeholders generate potential action items, prioritize items, and help stakeholders create community impact related to mental health.
In February 2019, Katelyn Andersen sent a survey an electronic survey to 100 individuals that were either signed up to receive information regarding mental illness/mental health and/or were identified as providing mental health services in the community. This survey was also posted online and requested individuals to complete it and forward to others who may be interested. The survey received a 188% response rate, far exceeding an external survey expectation of a 10-15% response rate.
- Speaker Series: Participants were asked to rank identified topics for the NIH speaker series based on their interest in learning more about the topic. The topics from most interested to least interested: 1) Depression and anxiety, 2) Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 3) Mental health and aging, 4) Drug abuse and alcoholism, 5) Bipolar Disorder, 6) Schizophrenia, 7) Postpartum Depression.
- Additional Topics: Participants were asked an open-ended question of, “Is there another topic you are interested in learning more about?” Many comments were received and had the following themes: Suicide (9 responses), Youth Mental Health (9 responses), Personality Disorders – including split, borderline, narcissist (8 responses), Trauma Informed (ACES) (4 responses), Impacts of Mental Illness – insomnia, chronic pain, eating, financial anxiety, fatigue, chronic grief, etc.
The M.I.K.A. Community Discussions will occur every 2-3 months. To be notified of these meetings, please sign up here.
Results of February 2019 Mental Illness Educational Series