Mental health and addiction: A conversation with Maureen Bisognano

October 5, 2017 Rod Hochman

I always enjoy the opportunity to speak with Maureen Bisognano, president emerita of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Throughout her distinguished career, she has helped improve the quality and safety of health care all over the world.

Today, she is directing much of her energy and passion to another vitally important cause: the mental health and drug addiction crisis that is sweeping the nation. The situation is dire, and her leadership could not come at a more critical time. Last year alone, more than 65,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States. That's more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War. And depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Addressing the crisis will require nothing short of social transformation and the participation of every sector of society.

We are blessed to have Maureen serve as the advisory council chair of the Well Being Trust, a national foundation established by Providence St. Joseph Health in 2016. The foundation is dedicated to advancing the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation. In this recent conversation, Maureen shares thought-provoking insights on how we can tackle the issue as a country, including inspiring examples of communities coming together and making a real difference in the lives of individuals.

She also shares learnings from the 100,000 Lives campaign, a nationwide movement to prevent deaths from medical errors. Anyone who has worked in health care for more than a decade knows how powerful and transformative that campaign was. It brought everyone in health care together and aligned us on a common goal, with very specific steps on how to reach it. Maureen shares some of the parallels and how key aspects of that campaign can be applied to the mental health crisis.

It's a daunting task. But one we can no longer afford to ignore. With courageous leaders like Maureen stepping up to the plate, I am optimistic that we will foster healing and restore wholeness across all our communities.

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