Tag Archives: mental health

AZ Employee Among Top Movember Fundraisers

When Mike Kavanagh, Director of Sales Operations for Diabetes at AstraZeneca, began searching for a way to join the fight against cancer, he wanted to become involved in a campaign that would make a real difference and honor the memory of his grandmother, mother and wife, all of whom he lost to different forms of cancer. After considering how he could best leverage his professional and personal experiences to make a true impact, he decided to join hundreds of his AstraZeneca colleagues in support of the Movember Foundation, an organization that raises awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically testicular and prostate cancer and mental health.

Mike K2Movember fundraising takes place during the month of November, when men grow mustaches as a way to initiate the conversation about men’s health, and fundraise in various ways. Mike began sharing the story of how cancer has affected his family, and the donations began pouring in. Now, with only days left in the campaign (fundraising officially ends December 9), Mike is the second highest individual fundraiser across the country, having raised more than $46,000. All of us at AstraZeneca applaud his efforts and are cheering him on as the campaign comes to a close.

Mike’s success has garnered attention from both the local media as well as Movember. See his NBC Philadelphia news story here and his feature article on the Movember site here.

Collectively, a team of more than 375 AstraZeneca employees, both men and women, have raised over $127,000 so far through their Movember fundraising efforts this year by either growing mustaches or supporting those who have. This was one of several charitable efforts accomplished this fall by employees across the US business in an effort to fight diseases, raise awareness and build stronger relationships with one another.

Mental Health America and AZ to Promote Screening and Early Intervention for Mental Illness Awareness Week

By Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Strategic Policy Analyst, Mental Health America

Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Strategic Policy Analyst, Mental Health America

Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Strategic Policy Analyst, Mental Health America

When we feel a nagging pain in our chest or see a strange mole on our skin, we’re usually comfortable asking our doctor to run tests to identify potential health problems. If we have a hard time getting out of bed, feel unnaturally agitated, or just feel like “something’s not right,” we often don’t know what’s going on or who to turn to.

Many who suffer with mental illness suffer in silence. We often suffer for months or years before seeking help. We don’t know how to make sense of what we feel. We don’t know how to tell our families or friends. Most don’t know what treatment is, or where and how to get help. Unfortunately hospitalization is often the first mental health intervention for many suffering from mental illness. As a clinician, I have had many families tell me, “We didn’t realize what was going on, but looking back it’s so clear now. We wish we could have gotten help earlier.”

With cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we usually don’t wait years to provide treatment. We have strong public health campaigns that promote education, early screening and treatment; but screening and treatment is just as essential for mental health. Identifying mental health problems early saves lives.

Healthcare professionals try to intervene for physical illnesses before they can reach stage 4, and we should have the same approach for mental illness. Treating mental illness before it reaches “stage 4” keeps people in school, helps them get and keep jobs, helps them stay connected to their family and friends, and ultimately helps people feel better. In other words, with early screening and treatment, what we’re really offering is life.

If the mental health community is serious about helping people and families in the fight against mental illness, we must promote education, early screening and treatment. Since Mental Health America launched MHAScreening.org in April 2014, over 120,000 screens have been taken by people across the US and internationally. People are looking for help and when they don’t know where to turn, many start on the internet. Online screening tools provide a private way to identify potential mental health problems, to learn more about what treatments are available, and even reach out to get help for the first time. Of those who screened and reported moderately severe to severe mental health problems, around 60% had never been diagnosed. Since diagnosis is often the first step in treatment, a majority of those who screened and need help may not be getting help. The earlier we can reach populations at risk for mental health disorders with our screening tools, the earlier they can receive the treatment they need.

MHA b4stage4 imageMental Health America (MHA) is proud to partner with AstraZeneca to act B4Stage4. At MHA, we believe in prevention for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated health and behavioral health treatment for those who need it, and recovery as a goal. Screening is an integral part of prevention, early identification and intervention.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014. Join Mental Health America, AstraZeneca, and our other partners and affiliates in promoting early intervention for mental illness through MHAScreening.org and #B4Stage4. As a community, we must work together to shift the conversations around mental health and help people obtain hopeful and meaningful lives.

Mental Illness Awareness Week Highlights Available Resources

By Mary Giliberti, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mary Giliberti, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mary Giliberti, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Today marks the beginning of 2014’s Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which provides an opportunity to inspire conversations about mental health care, helping to end the silence that often surrounds mental illness and bringing help and hope to people affected by these conditions.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as MIAW in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise public awareness about mental illness as a significant health condition. Each year since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about signs and symptoms of mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other conditions.

Today, MIAW includes the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 7) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 9).

For many people it comes as a surprise to learn that one in four adults experience a mental health problem ever year. One in five children and teens also live with mental illness. One-half of cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24, distinguishing mental illness from other chronic health conditions, which often begin later in life.

Unfortunately, there are long delays−sometimes decades−between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help. Early identification and treatment can make a difference for successful management of an illness and recovery, but only one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with mental illness receive treatment.

MIAW aims to educate the public to recognize symptoms and understand the importance of getting help early. With the right services and supports, people can and do recover. NAMI offers support to those affected by providing free education classes and support groups, which play an important role in helping individuals with mental illness, their friends and families get information and support.

Thanks to AstraZeneca’s support, NAMI also will be launching a new social media in 2015 to broaden our ability to help people affected by mental illness.

Horseshoe falls at night

Niagra Falls, lit up green for Mental Illness Awareness Week

During MIAW, people are also encouraged to wear green to help raise public awareness. Green is the traditional symbol of hope and renewal—themes which are important to NAMI’s vision of resiliency, recovery and wellness in working to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

“Going green” can be as simple as wearing a green ribbon or green shoelaces or painting your fingernails. You might want to arrange for a landmark, such as a school or church, to be illuminated in green light at night. No matter how we bring attention to this critical issue, the goal is to initiate conversations about mental illness.

The more people know, the better they can help themselves, their families and their communities.  MIAW is a time to learn. It is a time to raise awareness. It is a time to make a difference.

Information about mental health conditions, recovery, and treatment options is available from NAMI at www.nami.org or from our HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264.


Mental Health America and AZ Launch Mind Your Health Campaign

Paul Gionfriddo, MHA President and CEO

Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America

By Paul Gionfriddo, MHA President and CEO

For over a century, Mental Health America (MHA) has been a national leader in advancing mental health and I was thrilled to join this wonderful organization on May 1, 2014 as its new President and CEO. I’ve worked on mental health matters since my time in the Connecticut State legislature in the 1980s, so this is a new opportunity for me to work with old friends from around the country to build our constituency for mental health.

As a first step in that process, and in recognition of Mental Health Month in May, MHA created a new series of videos with support from AstraZeneca as part of our “Mind Your Health” campaign. The videos encourage people to use a mental health screening tool and can be seen in physicians’ offices and elsewhere around the nation. The series focuses on the four principles that guide us in our work: Prevention for all, Early identification and intervention for those at risk, Integrated health and behavioral health treatment for those who need it, and Recovery as a goal. Because our greatest challenge is often getting people to look beyond the stigma and seek medical care, the videos drive people to visit our new site, MHAScreening.org, where they can find a number of online tools to screen for mental health conditions and to get recommendations for care and support in their communities.

Thousands of online screenings have already been completed, which is a positive sign that we’re connecting with the people we need to reach to accomplish our goals.

We’re proud of our partnership with AstraZeneca and we think it will make a huge difference in the lives of so many people. After all, we all know the numbers – half of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition during our lives, and up to 6% of people live with serious mental illnesses. My son Tim is one of them. And he – now homeless on the streets of San Francisco – has had an extraordinarily difficult life because of it. So this affects me on a very personal level, too.

MHA believes that early identification and effective intervention and treatment are essential for people’s wellbeing. The “Mind Your Health” campaign is just our most recent effort to accomplish this objective, and we are very pleased to have AstraZeneca as our partner.

Click here to view the first of our videos.

About Paul Gionfriddo

Gionfriddo has held key health and public health-related leadership positions during a career spanning more than 30 years. In addition to leading nonprofit organizations in three states, he ran his own consulting business, specializing in public health, children’s health, primary care and mental health.


2991106 Last Updated 5/14


AZ Asks APA Attendees to “Help Us Help Others” and Support Mental Health

By Emily Denney, Head of External Affairs, AstraZeneca

HUHOAstraZeneca believes that a healthier world cannot come from medicines alone. That is why we support the efforts of nonprofit organizations working to improve health in communities across the US. We collaborate with many organizations who share our passion for making a meaningful difference to patient health across therapeutic areas.

One way we show our support is with our Help Us Help Others program that was started by AstraZeneca to engage healthcare professionals at medical meetings by asking them to join the company in supporting non-profit organizations working to improve healthcare. It will now expand to include programs in mental health. For more than 50 years, AstraZeneca has been committed to raising awareness of mental health conditions and the availability of resources and services to developing treatment options that help patients manage mental health conditions.

The Help Us Help Others program will be featured at the 167th American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, in New York City May 3-7. Conference attendees can visit our booth (#937) for an interactive experience, including patient and healthcare professional videos that show the journey through bipolar diagnosis, treatment and adherence. After visiting the booth, attendees can select one of three mental health organizations—Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, or the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, to receive a donation from AstraZeneca to support patient programs.

This effort underscores AstraZeneca’s commitment to connect people and communities with resources that improve health and well-being and help the organizations make a meaningful difference in their communities.

You can learn more about AstraZeneca’s focus on innovation and improving health in communities across the US here.

2979908 Last Updated 4/14

Addressing the Unmet Need of Bipolar Disorder During National Observance

By Catherine Datto, MD, MS, AstraZeneca

Each year, more than 5.7 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings with manic highs and depressive lows.  The condition can be debilitating, and if symptoms are not adequately controlled, they can have a significant impact on a person’s well-being and relationships.

Since symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to distinguish from other mental illnesses, the disorder can go under-recognized and undertreated.  According to a survey conducted by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, 69% of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and on average, 68% of the patient populations consulted up to four physicians before being properly diagnosed.

Finding the balance between the highs and lows – where patients can feel most like themselves – is important to their health. However, more than one-third of patients could wait 10 years or more to receive a proper diagnosis.With the theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week observance being “It’s Time to Make a Difference,” we must take this opportunity to educate both health care providers and patients about reaching an appropriate diagnosis and how to properly manage the highs and lows characterized by bipolar disorder.

AstraZeneca believes that public education about both disease states and available therapies is an essential step in the patient pathway to diagnosis and care. During Mental Illness Awareness Week and year round, AstraZeneca is committed to researching and identifying solutions that can help patients manage the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.