Aetna Better Health of Florida leads the way for Suicide Prevention Month

by | Sep 12, 2022

  • Aetna Better Health of Florida is bringing awareness to Suicide Prevention Month through a new collaborative partnership with The QPR Initiative 
  • The initiative provides the public with a series of ‘Question, Persuade, and Refer’ training classes to help providers, practitioners, and social workers assess and identify suicidal ideations and symptoms of struggling mental health in patients 
  • The classes aim to provide widespread assessment capabilities across a variety of settings, including schools, home environments, and primary care offices

Aetna Better Health of Florida is drawing attention to its mental health resources during Suicide Prevention Month, working to identify and treat self-harm idealizations across the state.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 3,113 suicides occurred in Florida in 2020, a population-adjusted percentage higher than the national average. Though the total number of suicides in the state has decreased year-over-year since 2018, Florida still faces a pressing issue that is proving increasingly difficult to resolve.

To mitigate the crisis and further mental health support in the state, Aetna Better Health of Florida is partnering with the QPR Institute to help train and prepare practitioners, responders, and providers to adequately assess and identify at-risk individuals.

The specialized course is open to all that seek it, and trains participants to “Question, Persuade, and Refer” patients to necessary resources.

“Under the Aetna umbrella, we are offering QPR training, for Question, Persuade, and Refer, and we’ve opened it to the public,” said Patricia Babcock, Senior Principal Clinical Lead at Aetna in an interview with The Capitolist. “I’ve personally provided a list of providers that we can reach out to in order to make sure we fill those classes. The ability to train providers and make sure they are able to recognize the warning signs and offer hope through support services and know where to get that help is going to be critical.”

Aetna is also working to integrate analysis of physical health with mental health to offer comprehensive and complete screening for patients.

“I think that’s the whole overlay of what we do. I call it behavioral health. Behavioral health is both mental health and substance abuse, but we also know that there’s a correlation with each one individually with thoughts of suicidal idealization,” said Babcock. “How do we integrate physical health with behavioral health or mental health? [We need to] use our primary care providers to really make sure we’re screening and assessing suicidal thoughts or behaviors.”

The QPR training holds a goal to enter new spaces, especially those where children and young adults have been found to harbor harmful feelings. A mission of quickly identifying and assessing symptoms of mental health struggles.

“On the other side of the coin is this QPR training and the far-reaching impact it has in the home. You know, you think where does suicide prevention really get started? It starts in the home, in the schools, and our primary care providers,” Babcock said.

Last year, Aetna announced the development of a specialty provider network with a focus on suicide prevention in collaboration with Psych Hub. The joint provides in-network practitioners with no-cost, evidence-based instruction, tools, and resources to identify and treat those at risk of suicide.

In addition to this network, Aetna uses suicide prevention screening and safety planning for all members seen by clinical staff, even if they are not presenting as “at risk” and offers several specialty suicide risk-reducing evidence-based programs as available outpatient resources. Aetna also continues to be the only health insurer to send caring contact postcards to “touch base” with members who have been discharged from an inpatient stay after a suicide attempt with messaging to let them know that they are valued, and that support and resources are available to them.


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