Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It takes a village...

In 1996, Hilary Clinton made famous an old African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." Similarly, I believe it takes a village to cure depression. Fortunately, in Minnesota, there is a new initiative proving this point quite successfully--The DIAMOND Initiative.

Depression Improvement Across Minnesota, Offering a New Direction, or DIAMOND, began in March, 2008. Since then, 234 patients in 10 Minnesota clinics have been enrolled in this unique, collaborative program. According to a recent press release, "The program is the result of a unique collaboration between dozens of Minnesota medical groups, six regional health plans and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Their efforts have been guided by the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), a non-profit organization that brings medical groups, health plans, patients, health care purchasers and other constituencies together to develop solutions to problems in health care."

“'DIAMOND is the first depression treatment program in the nation to integrate a collaborative care model with an effective, sustainable reimbursement structure that enables medical groups to provide outreach and enhanced care support to patients with depression,' said John Sakowski, interim president of ICSI."

The solution they've discovered is collaboration. That is, a team of professionals collaborating results in significantly improved outcomes for the patient with depression vs. a non-collaborative approach. It's such an obvious finding, I find myself sadly wondering why it took so long for someone to discover and quantify it? The answer, of course, is stigma. Teams of cancer and cardiac professionals have been using this approach for years. Nevertheless, I am overjoyed that someone has finally taken the initiative to apply the team concept to depression!

I've been lucky. I've had a collaborating treatment team for years. My psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, MD, and even AA sponsor are all responsible for my recent streak of depression remission. They've always been willing to listen to and confer with each other. It is certainly no coincidence that I've felt significantly better since this team has been in place. Of course, it took me years to build a team of competent, caring professionals. It appears The DIAMOND Initiative does the team building for the client, and that's definitely a bonus.

Not surprisingly, outcome studies of The DIAMOND Initiative have proven beneficial. Check out these results, which are quoted from an ICSI press release, "Clinical trials have demonstrated that use of this model in the primary care setting reduces the incidence of suicidal thoughts, puts patients in remission faster, results in 100 additional productive days over a two-year period, and reduces health care costs by more than $3,000 over a four-year period compared to patients who receive the usual primary care treatment and/or referral approach for depression." Hopefully, results like these will lead to an expansion of this model and improved quality care for those of us with depression.

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