We would like to take a moment to shine a light on a mental health foundation PRMS contributes to and the important work they are doing to promote mental health.
The Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, Inc. (Foundation) works both to educate the public about mental health issues and also with psychiatrists to broaden their contributions to the welfare of psychiatric patients. The Foundation has an impressive agenda including public service radio announcements with timely information on psychiatry and mental health topics such as opioid abuse and how training helps police help the mentally ill, an oral history project documenting the careers of prominent Maryland psychiatrists, and an annual award for news articles or letters that help destigmatize mental illness.
“Our goal is to act as a bridge between psychiatric medicine and the general public, presenting understandable information to those who need it,” said Heidi Bunes, executive director of the Baltimore-based Maryland Psychiatric Society, which provides administrative support to the Foundation.
Public Service Radio Announcements
Each year, the Foundation writes and produces minute-long spots aired on local radio stations. Topics have included guns and mental illness, mental illness among prison inmates, mental health parity, suicide prevention, holiday and recession depression, bullying and one titled “Who Are Psychiatrists and What Do They Do?” Visitors can listen to or download spots at http://mdpsychfoundation.org. The group runs web-based ad campaigns in the Baltimore Sun concurrently with the radio spots.
The ads appear to be working. Traffic to the Foundation’s website spikes when ads run and stories generated in the local news often address topics featured in the spots. Best of all, callers seeking referrals have mentioned them. “We think that they reach a lot of people,” said Neil E. Warres, MD, president of the Foundation, past president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society and former Chief of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center.
A recent segment talked about how a Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. program is training city police officers to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and hopefully avoid tragedies.
“The goal is to teach police officers specific steps they can take to deescalate crises so that people don’t simply become violent,” said Warres.
Oral History Project
For more than a decade, Foundation volunteers have been hard at work on an oral history project featuring interviews with distinguished Maryland psychiatrists that explores the impact of changes in the profession on psychiatrists in the 20th century. The Foundation plans to make interviews available on its website – both as audio files and as transcripts.
“People will be able to hear or read about some rather prominent psychiatrists, why they became a psychiatrist, and what a psychiatric practice was like in their day,” said Warres. For now, PDF copies of transcripts are available by email and interviews and transcripts can be viewed in the Maryland Psychiatric Society office.
Maryland Institute College of Art Collaboration
Since 2009, the Foundation has also partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art, which created a website and YouTube video campaign called “Love From Depression” (www.LoveFromDepression.com) to help college students struggling with depression and anxiety.
Maryland Psychiatric Society Collaboration
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, the Foundation has collaborated with the Maryland Psychiatric Society on public events such as screenings of the films “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Hours.” Another event featured Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Medicine, whose work has centered on bipolar disorder, which she has had since early adulthood. In 2003, the Foundation provided seed money for “The Building of a Sanctuary,” a Maryland Public Television documentary about the early history of Sheppard Pratt Hospital. In 2016, it helped sponsor a lecture about Beethoven and performance by Dr. Richard Kogan, a noted psychiatrist and Juilliard-trained concert pianist who speaks frequently about the lives and struggles of musicians who had psychiatric problems.
Anti-stigma Advocacy Award
Meanwhile, the Foundation’s annual Anti-Stigma Advocacy Award provides $500 for the best local or regional article or letter to the editor in which someone shares their experience with mental illness, writes something that helps others overcome their inability to talk about mental illness or makes “particularly insightful observations” about mental illness. The 2017 winner was Baltimore psychiatrist John Lion, MD, whose article “Steadfast Talking is the Only Cure for Suicide” in the Baltimore Sun reassured readers that even serious mental illness like depression can be overcome, even if there are setbacks along the way that evoke suicidal thoughts.
Warres said much of what the Foundation does is possible because of donations and partnerships with groups such as PRMS.
“PRMS certainly has been a very generous sponsor both with financial contributions and now by helping publicize the Foundation,” Warres said. “We’re very grateful for their support.”
Melanie Smith, PRMS Senior Vice President, Client Relations said PRMS is honored to lend a hand. “We are delighted to shine a spotlight on the Foundation’s campaigns and activities as it continues building awareness about psychiatry and works to continue moving the needle to help destigmatize mental illness.”
The Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization; donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. To donate or for more information, visit www.mdpsychfoundation.org or follow the Foundation on Twitter via @MFP_Inc.
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