Mental Health Awareness Month: How Providers Can Help
May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, a tradition dating back to 1949 in the United States. With the recent focus on the opioid crisis, addressing patient’s mental and behavioral health needs is more important than ever.
Affecting nearly one in five Americans, mental health conditions are more common than you might think. They’re also among the most costly healthcare expenditures – just the top 5 mental disorders are estimated to cost $300 billion.
So, how can independent physician practices help? Here’s a few ways you can better address mental health needs in your practice:
Start the Conversation
Historically, mental health has often been sidelined in healthcare. Many have wanted to avoid the stigma around mental health instead of confronting it. By starting the conversation among your peers, your staff and with your patients you can drive home the importance of mental health care.
Organizations like Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Provide a variety of resources for your patients and your practice.
Incorporate Mental Health Screenings
While one in five adults experience a mental health condition in a given year, it can often be hard to identify which patients may need extra support. That’s where mental health screenings come in.
By providing your patients with screening questionnaires sourced from groups like the World Health Organization, you can gain invaluable patient data to better address patient needs head on. Many screenings provide an easy to interpret health risk score that makes starting the conversations with your patients easier.
Particularly as it related to the opioid crisis, screening for high risk areas helps providers to make more informed decisions on patient care and identify at-risk individuals.
Engage Your Patients
Using a patient-driven mental & behavioral health screening application allows you to better engage your own patients in their care. When patients understand the health risks and are asked to complete screening questions as part of their regular visit, providers better highlight the importance of mental healthcare.
Many are using patient engagement to help curb the opioid crisis. Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare incorporated patient engagement into their efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions, ensuring patients understand the risks associated. After only eight months the system has already cut prescription rates by 20%.
Through engagement, incorporation of mental health screenings and opening the doors to mental health discussions providers can lead the way in addressing mental and behavioral health needs for their patients. For more on Mental Health Awareness Month visit mentalhealthamerica.net/may.
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