Intermountain’s Morissa Henn on the importance of mindfulness


What sparked your interest in mental health specifically?
My mother is a family therapist, and she and my father (a primary-care physician) co-located their practices years before “mental health integration” was a thing. From them, I developed an early interest in the ways that physical and mental health are inextricably linked, and a belief that the true measure of success of a health system is how well we serve the most vulnerable members of our community.

What role would you say health systems as employers have in keeping their employees emotionally healthy?
Health systems like Intermountain are among the largest private employers and economic drivers of their regions. We take the mental health of our 40,000-person workforce extremely seriously—not only because it’s the right thing to do at a human and community level, but because caregivers’ emotional and psychological well-being impacts every aspect of our mission. Our current work includes offering training and call-in support lines, coaching leaders to support their teams, offering comprehensive and digitally enabled behavioral health benefits, and advancing social norms campaigns to fight stigma and encourage help-seeking.

What do you do for mindfulness?
I’ve really tried to prioritize self-care in preparing for the arrival of my first baby and the adventures of working motherhood. The Utah outdoors is my refuge for recharging. We are so fortunate to have snow-covered peaks and red rock desert practically in our backyard, and a work culture that encourages us to disconnect and explore these precious public lands.

Who is your greatest role model when it comes to your specialty?
I started my career working one-on-one with Dr. Jack Geiger, often described as the “father of community health,” and his mentoring in the years that followed was profoundly formative. Jack died this past December at age 95. I will always be inspired by his lifetime of pioneering work to establish lasting safety-net health systems, organize medical professionals to advocate for the poor, fight for civil rights, and define what it means to be a “healer” in the 21st century.

Nominations for this year’s Top 25 Emerging Leaders recognition program open May 24.



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