Our Thinking


Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

By Pranam Ben, founder & CEO, The Garage

According to the American Federation for Suicide Prevention, 130 Americans die by suicide each day. Suicidal thoughts can affect just about anyone regardless of age, race, gender, or background and are often the result of an untreated mental health condition.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is a time to raise awareness of this widespread issue. Thanks to advancements in healthcare technology, patients can receive treatment without having to endure the social stigma that can sometimes accompany seeking care for a mental health issue. We spoke with The Garage founder and CEO Pranam Ben about the ways technology can assist healthcare workers in preventing suicide.

What have your partners who work in the mental health field told you about the challenges they currently face in engaging with patients and people who may be at risk of suicide?

Pranam Ben, founder & CEO, The Garage: Challenges are plenty but one of the things we constantly hear about is the social stigma attached to mental health conditions that prevent many from seeking the help they need. Those who do reach out are often faced with an overburdened, complex and fragmented system, which many are simply unable to navigate, and the ones that can't navigate the system seem to rely on emergency departments or forgo the care all together. In addition, access to care is further crippled by the shortage of mental health providers, limited funding in this space and care silos.

How can healthcare tech companies help overcome those challenges?

PB: Health tech companies have the ability to empower access to comprehensive Information about a patient's medical, social and physiological needs across the continuum. Care teams, regardless of specialty or setting, can be empowered to work together to provide timely and comprehensive interventions that consider the whole person. And, of course, achieving mental health parity in provider reimbursement, funding for data collection/tracking and care coordination would all be available to improve access and outcomes. Engaging these patients via a private, secure mobile app would effectively help these patients remain compliant with treatment plans.

What does The Garage have on the horizon to help partners better serve patients dealing with mental health issues?

PB: Our GRID app, offered through our population health platform Bridge, is designed to help providers and mental health service providers manage total care for these patients. From screening to treatment plans, we have the ability to configure the experience end-to-end and to empower the patients in the process via our PULSE app which provides access to information, education and communication tools so patients can stay connected to their providers and engaged in their care. In addition, we can help identify the correlation between chronic conditions (or post-COVID syndrome) and depression in patients, so providers have a better picture of resources needed.

Did partner requests and feedback lead to this new feature, or is it something The Garage has always wanted to help with?

PB: Everything in our platform has been driven by partner and customer requests, but in this case, we have always wanted to help these patients as they seem to be the "forgotten" population. And as we consider the widespread impact of the pandemic on mental health, there is an even greater need to support these issues.

If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Center at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals.

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