What do the Indiana Colts football team and American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) have in common? Both want to raise mental health awareness, education, and access to care. 

Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, president of AAPA, will join forces with Kalen Jackson, vice chair and owner of the Colts, for a mental health panel discussion during the AAPA’s upcoming in-person annual meeting in Indianapolis May 21 to 25, 2022.

“We are excited to welcome the Colts organization to our first in-person conference since 2019 so that PAs from across the country can learn from what the Colts have accomplished and return to their own communities and their patients equipped with lessons learned,” Orozco stated.  The Colts have launched the Kicking The Stigma campaign, which will raise awareness of mental health issues in the Indianapolis area.


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“With more than 400 million patient interactions per year, PAs are positioned to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, to compassionately lead their patients through the difficult conversations associated with these disorders, and to ensure their patients are getting the proper care and have access to appropriate resources,” said Orozco.

Panelists at the session will discuss how PAs can help advance mental health in their local community through clinical practice, leading mental health first aid trainings, volunteering to serve marginalized populations, or engaging in conversations with business leaders in their community.

Additional Colts representatives confirmed to speak on the panel include Elizabeth White, MA, LMHC, LCAC, team clinician, and Steve Campbell, vice president of communications. Sarah Scantamburlo, MSW, MS, PA-C, a mental health outreach fellow for the PA Foundation from Michigan Mental Wellness, will also serve as a panelist.

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic came mental illness, with approximately 4 in 10 adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, reported Kaiser Family Foundation, and 56% of adults with mental illness are not receiving treatment, according to Mental Health America.

The AAPA’s focus on mental health during its conference, which coincides with National Mental Health Month, builds on the association’s ongoing commitment to this issue. In 2018, the PA Foundation launched the Mental Health Outreach Fellows program that was designed to connect PAs’ clinical expertise and compassion to specific mental health community needs. As part of the program, PAs were certified as trainers of the evidence-based mental health first aid curriculum. Since launching, the fellows have trained more than 2300 individuals across the country, said AAPA.

Reference

American Academy of Physician Associates teams up with Indianapolis Colts to kick mental health stigma. News release. AAPA. April 8, 2022. Accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.aapa.org/news-central/2022/04/american-academy-of-physician-associates-teams-up-with-indianapolis-colts-to-kick-mental-health-stigma/