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M Health Fairview's EmPATH helps hundreds get mental health treatment every month

M Health Fairview's EmPATH helps hundreds get mental health treatment every month
M Health Fairview's EmPATH helps hundreds get mental health treatment every month 02:06

EDINA, Minn. -- Monday is World Mental Health Day and along with bringing awareness, the theme this year is to make mental health and well-being a priority for all.

This comes as a new study shows a lot of work still needs to be done.

Health experts said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a global mental health crisis, with a 25% rise in anxiety and depressive disorders in the first year of the outbreak.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control shows more adults have sought out help for mental health through the pandemic with nearly one in four adults in need of support.

More often than not, people turn to the emergency department for help, but if people are experiencing a mental crisis the hustle and bustle and bright lights of the emergency department could make things worse.


 EmPATH at M Health Fairview Southdale opened its doors 18 months ago and has since helped roughly 3,800 people get mental health treatment.

EmPATH is essentially a 24/7 emergency department for mental health and it's the first of its kind in the state.

The lights and sounds are much more calming inside and patients can stay for a few hours or even a few days depending on the type of help they need.

The staff consists of all mental health professionals -- psychiatrists, therapists and mental health nurses all dedicated to providing thorough assessment, treatment, and healing.

Highlighting local help on World Mental Health Day 02:15

Leaders said this model of care is better for mental health and it's here whenever we need it.

"This is not just a small group of people who happen to have mental illness," said Lewis Zeidner, assistant executive director for mental health and addiction at M Health Fairview. "All of us are on a continuum of mental health and so as stresses come up, everyone at times has more sadness, more anxiety, more symptoms and sometimes need some support to get through that."

The department helps on average 250 patients a month.

One of the things leaders are working on now is making sure they can cater to everyone who needs help from all different backgrounds.

"I think each culture looks at mental illness in different ways, feels comfortable with discussing various topics in different ways and so I think the more we can show a sense that we understand, not just the mental illness part of it but also the cultural needs, I think we connect more easily with patients," said Zeidner.

So far on staff, there are representatives from the Hmong, Somali and East African populations, but Zeidner acknowledges it's a work in progress and they are actively recruiting to make sure more cultures are represented.

EmPATH currently only serves adults but there are plans to open two more units in the future at the university hospital downtown -- one of pediatrics and adults.

In terms of health insurance coverage, Zeidner said services at EmPATH would be covered under emergency department coverage.

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