In observance of World Mental Health Day, Atrium Health Foundation is honored to recognize Martha Whitecotton, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health at Atrium Health, for her advances in the behavioral health field. Martha leads the strategic development, execution and oversight across all care settings as well as physician services. With a specific focus on integrating behavioral health into primary care, she is creating a forward thinking, innovative, value-based care delivery model for ambulatory care and leveraging a virtual care platform.

Martha’s leadership in the behavioral health field has been nationally awarded and recognized. Most recently, she was named to Modern Healthcare’s Class of Top 25 Innovators, in part for her leadership in the Virtual Behavioral Health Integration program. This program proactively screens for behavioral health issues in 51 primary care practices (including seven pediatric clinics) and uses telemedicine to guide patients who need help through appropriate follow-up care. Atrium Health’s integration of virtual behavioral health into primary care settings has expanded needed services to more people, helped to diagnose mental disorders sooner, reduced the stigma associated with asking for mental health support and lowered the overall cost of care. While vBHI was implemented six years ago, it’s vital now more than ever – as virtual care has since evolved into a primary source for access to care.

One in four Americans experiences a mental health issue. No one should be alone on the journey to recovery from a mental illness or substance use disorder. Atrium Health’s comprehensive, integrated system of inpatient, outpatient, school-based, crisis and residential treatment programs, makes us the most comprehensive behavioral healthcare provider in the region. In 2019, Atrium Health responded to more than 110,000 crisis intervention help line calls, 92,000 outpatient visits, 10,000 psychiatric emergency department visits, and 7,000 admissions to inpatient locations.

This year, World Mental Health Day comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that the need for behavioral health support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programs is more important than it has ever been. This is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health.

In observance of World Mental Health Day, consider giving the gift of hope in support of mental health by supporting the Carolinas Behavioral Health Advancement Fund.