Thousands Living with Serious Mental Illness to Receive Oral Health Aid Thanks to $25,000 grant
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – For thousands of low-income Minnesotans living with serious mental illness, oral health care is often overlooked or unattainable. While 75 percent of Minnesota adults say they’ve received dental care in the past year, only 42 percent of the people who Mental Health Resources Inc. serves have seen a dentist in the past 12 months.
Supported in part by a $25,000 grant from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, Mental Health Resources Inc. (MHR) is working to change that narrative.
MHR’s Comprehensive Dental Program will provide those living with serious mental illnesses with education, assessments, and personalized assistance to obtain dental care. When complete, the initiative will have educated 2,000 people on how to care for their teeth, provided low-stress dental assessments to 600 people, and made it possible for 250 people to receive professional dental care.
“If we do not address the oral health needs of this population, we will continue to see people struggling with serious health issues that could have been prevented with basic measures,” said Ann Henderson, Vice President of Clinical Services at MHR. “Our role in this work is to identify and resolve numerous barriers to oral health experienced by those with mental illness.”
Personalizing this approach is key to its effectiveness. MHR has partnered with several dental clinics, each with a wealth of experience working with high-needs patients, to provide care to program recipients. Through the program, MHR’s Community Health Outreach Coordinator will build relationships between the dental offices and MHR’s patients, helping to assist in individualized coordinated care. This knowledge will help them provide highly specialized training to MHR staff on best practices, resources, and opportunities for dental care for this population, as well as how to most effectively navigate local systems.
“Our highest aim is to support organizations that find innovative strategies to provide dental care to Minnesotans in need,” said Joe Lally, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. “MHR’s Dental Health Initiative is an inventive and strategic approach to providing oral health care for the thousands of Minnesotans living with serious and persistent mental illness who face significant barriers to obtaining it – and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”
The initiative is scheduled to begin in April. Its results will be tracked and studied for further development.
About Mental Health Resources Inc.:
Our mission is to foster hope, health and recovery for those affected by mental illness. MHR believes that persons with mental illness can lead full lives in the community. We challenge ourselves and the larger community to address barriers that inhibit their independence, growth and recovery.
About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation: In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota’s parent sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota’s mission of improving the health of Minnesotans through oral health. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation works to expand access to dental care for Minnesota’s underserved populations across the state by primarily investing in programs and organizations that provide dental care to people in need. Since 2011, the foundation has invested more than $21 million in grants to nearly 70 programs and organizations that provide care and promote oral health.