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The intersection of health literacy and mental health

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is particularly important to us at Health Literacy Media because mental health conditions intersect with health literacy in a few big ways. People living with mental health conditions often have less access to healthcare and underutilize health care services to control preventable diseases, such as:

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes and kidney failure

  • Respiratory disease such as pneumonia and the flu

  • Infectious disease such as HIV/AIDS

As a result, people with mental health conditions are several times more likely to die from preventable diseases than people without a mental health condition.

To help people get the care they need, we know that systems-based health literacy strategies can reduce stigma and obstacles to care and the stigma.

So, from 2015-2016, we collaborated with Truman Medical Center (TMC) Behavioral Health to help improve patient-provider communication, increase understanding and access to care, and lower the risk of death. TMC is the largest provider of mental health services in the Kansas City Metro region, serving 17,000 clients each year.

In partnership with the TMC team, we:

  • Delivered 4 in-person workshops on health-literate communication skills to TMC Behavioral Health staff

  • Assessed 5 in-patient and out-patient TMC Behavioral Health facilities and provided evidence-based recommendations to enhance patient-centered care

  • Rewrote in plain language 56 pages of client-facing materials, including forms, instructions, letterse, and presentations

  • Developed and designed 96 pages of plain language education materials on 53 topics, including diagnoses, treatments, and patient forms

Every workshop, recommendation, and material was developed with evidence-based health literacy and patient-centered design principles in mind — like everything we do at HLM.

This comprehensive program had a lot of components, and today we’d like to share some of the resulting health literate materials. Check ‘em out!

To learn more about this project, or any of our other services, send an email our way!





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