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NYU Research Study Confirms Social Supports Dramatically Reduce Medicaid Costs of People With Serious Mental Illness
Fountain House One-in-Four 5k Race/Walk will raise awareness about the connection between mental and physical health
April 3, 2017 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people living with serious mental illness have a life expectancy 10-25 years less than the general population. In recent years, integrated healthcare, which combines psychiatric and primary care, has emerged as the treatment standard. However, a recent study entitled Evaluating Fountain House for Medicaid members: Impact on Utilization and Costs of Healthcare demonstrates that for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, who face barriers of stigma and social isolation, a vital third element of social supports is needed. The research from NYU Langone Medical School Department of Population Health shows that high users of Medicaid services have a 21% decrease in total cost of care after enrolling in NYC-based Fountain House.
“The findings have broader implications for social programs that offer environmental approaches to prevention and well-being services,” states James Knickman, Robert Derzon Chair in Public and Health Affairs, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and NYU Langone Medical School Dept of Population Health. “As the national conversation around Medicaid continues, perhaps we should ask if we are spending too much energy and money on formal care management when replicating models such as Fountain House could provide real solutions.”
Fountain House’s Community System of Care represents the next frontier – “Beyond Integrated Healthcare” – delivering medical, psychiatric and social supports exclusively to people with the most serious forms of the illness. At Fountain House’s Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Center, the first integrated health home in the US for people with serious mental illness, patients receive primary and psychiatric care. Within walking distance from the Baer Center, at Fountain House’s non-clinical community center, people participate in evidence-based wellness programming, including: weight management and fitness activities, nutrition classes and substance abuse and smoking cessation groups.
“If you’re a person living with serious mental illness it is likely you are socially isolated. The stigma you deal with on a daily basis probably makes it hard to just ‘get out and go for a run.’ Chances are you also can’t afford to go to the gym. So, unless you are part of a community like Fountain House that reinforces healthy behaviors in a supportive, stigma-free environment, your doctor’s advice to lose weight and get fit can seem impossible,” comments Dr. Ralph Aquila, Medical Director of Fountain House and the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center.
Two years ago, the World Health Organization sought Fountain House’s partnership on a project related to excess mortality in people with serious mental illness. “The majority of deaths in these persons are due to preventable physical diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and infections,” says Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization and co-author of Excess mortality in persons with severe mental disorders: a multilevel intervention framework and priorities for clinical practice, policy and research agendas. “The World Health Organization sought to partner with Fountain House because it is the largest of the global, grassroots organizations with a standardized approach addressing serious mental illness on the ground today.”
Coinciding with World Health Day, which this year will focus on depression, on April 8th at 10AM Fountain House will hold its annual One-in-Four 5k Race/Walk in Riverside Park. This event is attended by over 600 New Yorkers and raises vital funds to support Fountain House’s innovative Wellness programming.
ABOUT FOUNTAIN HOUSE
Since 1948, NYC-based Fountain House, recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, has empowered people with serious mental illness to live and thrive in society.
Each year, over 1,600 members come to Fountain House to contribute their talents, learn new skills, access opportunities and forge new friendships.
Fountain House has inspired the creation of hundreds of similar programs in 34 countries that serve more than 100,000 people annually.