American Public Media Group (APMG) has named former HealthPartners executive Babette Apland as managing director of its new mental health initiative. The hiring of Apland marks the beginning of the organization’s ambitious five-year plan to bring public attention to mental health issues.
In her role, Apland will lead a new national initiative to measurably raise the American public’s understanding of mental health. The goal of the initiative is to activate public conversation and a platform for change to drive important policy discussions and investments in mental health. Apland’s work will leverage APMG’s innovative media and convening capabilities to grow a new media model based on partnerships that will shape and inform new on-air programming, digital content, civic engagement, and live events around the topic of mental health.
“Mental health is a vitally important issue in our society, yet it’s woefully misunderstood and receives far too little media coverage,” said Dave Kansas, executive vice president and chief operating officer of APMG. “We have a responsibility to do better. Babette is the perfect choice to lead this new effort.”
Apland comes to APMG from HealthPartners, where she grew several divisions including behavioral health, health and wellbeing solutions, and provider partnerships. Most recently, Apland served as vice president of HealthPartners Behavioral Health Care System and chief operating officer of Melrose Center for Eating Disorders. In that capacity, she led growth of HealthPartners mental health services and spearheaded several innovations to improve patient accessibility and quality of care, particularly in the areas of telemedicine, new treatment services and behavioral health integration in primary care clinics. Before joining HealthPartners, Apland led the creation of the Phillips Eye Institute and worked as strategy consultant supporting health care organizations’ growth and development.
“One in five Americans experience a mental illness each year and, according to the CDC, nearly 50 percent of American adults will experience at least one mental illness during their lifetime,” said Apland. “Mental health touches all of us either personally or through a loved one, yet, the shadow of stigma and our fragmented mental health care system stand in the way of people receiving the support and treatment they need.” She added, “Mental health is integral to the wellbeing of individuals and communities and APMG is uniquely positioned to creatively engage the American public and key stakeholders and illuminate collaborative solutions and opportunities. For instance, the award-winning podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression hosted by John Moe, has helped drive greater awareness of mental health issues and reduce the stigma often associated mental health.”
Apland received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech from the University of Cincinnati. She earned a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology at Purdue University and an M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota. She serves on the board of the Center for Victims of Torture and lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two dogs.
American Public Media Group is the largest station-based public radio organization in the U.S., combining multi-regional station operations, national programming creation and distribution and innovative digital, social and mobile services in one organization. Supported financially by contributions from individual donors, sponsors, philanthropic foundations as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, APMG’s operations include Minnesota Public Radio®, a 46-station network serving nearly all of Minnesota and parts of surrounding states, and Southern California Public Radio, a four-station network serving Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County and the Inland Empire. Programs produced by MPR’s national programming division, American Public Media®, reach more than 20 million listeners via 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes A Prairie Home Companion®, BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programming in the nation. APM also offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. In November 2015, APM launched APM Reports, a long-form reporting group aimed at creating distinct, high-impact journalism in the form of investigations and documentaries. APM Reports’ groundbreaking investigative podcast, In the Dark, which examined the 27-year-old cold case of the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling in central Minnesota, recently won a George Foster Peabody Award, the highest honor in broadcasting. YourClassical, APM’s lifestyle classical music stream, packages classical music in an unconventional and innovative way with streams suited for life’s biggest moments and everyday situations. For more information on American Public Media Group, visit americanpublicmediagroup.org.