America’s health care providers are no strangers to challenges. Time and again, we have overcome complex, difficult and daunting situations by using innovative approaches that have vastly improved patients’ lives.

Finding those solutions often begins with creative thinking and the willingness to experiment. To support the field, the AHA three years ago launched its Innovation Challenge, a juried award program to source and spread new ideas. This year’s Innovation Challenge focuses on showcasing ways to help people with behavioral health disorders live a more balanced, productive life. 

We must think boldly in this area. One in every five American adults lives with a behavioral health disorder but only half of them receive treatment. An alarming number of millennials and Gen Zers — the young people representing our nation’s future — report leaving their jobs for mental health reasons.

This year’s Innovation Challenge aims to inspire new strategies and test bold ideas that will make it easier for people living with psychiatric or substance use disorders to obtain and afford better treatment and improve their lives. 

All AHA members and their partners can participate in the Innovation Challenge. The top three proposals will receive $100,000, $25,000 and $15,000 to help bring their ideas to life. Applications must be submitted by May 15, and winners will be honored at the AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego in July. 

At my organization, Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, we speak of “the Intersection of Innovation and Hope.” It describes a mindset where our physicians, nurses and staff use the latest technology, treatments and research to turn innovation into hope for our patients. You can read some of our stories here

That spirit of innovation lives among us all. Let’s share ideas and strive for revolutionary results as we work together to advance health in America. Find out how you can participate in the 2020 Innovation Challenge to advance behavioral health here

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