Today, mental health professionals are seeing record numbers of people suffering from substance abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, child trauma, risk for suicide, and countless other mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, not everyone receives the professional care they need, even though most conditions can be treated successfully. The key is early intervention.
For busy primary care physicians, this means they must not only treat each patient’s immediate need but should also step back and look at their overall well-being. Far too many people suffer from early warning signs that go ignored. In addition, many physicians feel uncomfortable discussing mental health concerns. But how difficult is it for a doctor to simply ask, “How is everything else going for you? Any stress or other concerns lately?”
Of course, it is also widely suggested that the patient start the conversation with their doctor.
When you get treated for the flu or some other physical concern, your physician will naturally focus on the issue at hand. They may or may not see the signs of stress, anxiety, or other issues you’ve also been suffering from in your daily life. It’s often up to you to ask questions as to whether or not you might benefit from a conversation with a mental health professional. It’s not uncommon for a patient to ask, “One other thing … I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety lately. Is that a concern?” Your physician should take that as a cue to ask more questions and get to the heart of the problem.
If you end up perhaps needing help, the next step is easy. You’ll contact a mental health specialist like the professionals at PORT Health in Greenville. Dr. Gary Leonhardt, M.D., PORT medical director says, “Our mission is simple. We want to improve the quality of life, health, and well-being of every patient. Our number one job is helping people recover as quickly as possible, so they can move forward with normal life.”
Dr. Leonhardt and other mental health professionals also emphasize that while treatment is easy to access, far too many people are never diagnosed.
According to a recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only half of all Americans who experience a mental illness actually receive mental health care.* This puts millions of Americans at risk for potentially severe consequences, including suicide.
That’s why mental health professionals like those at PORT Health welcome your questions and concerns about mental well-being. There have been far too many cases where a five-minute conversation at an early stage could have not only changed a life, but perhaps also saved one.
It’s also important to remember that you not only need to look in the mirror, but also watch out for other members of your family. Now more than ever, we’re all being subjected to more stress than any time in history. The intense impact of today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world is taking a toll on each of us.
Are you having more frequent arguments with your spouse? Have you noticed any changes in behavior by your children? Could another member of your family be showing signs of going through a difficult time? In today’s world, it is far safer to have a simple, caring five-minute conversation than to simply assume all is well. The life you save may be a loved one closer than you imagine.
If you observe signs of any mental illness in a loved one or experience symptoms yourself, contact your primary care physician or a mental health professional such as PORT Health at 252-830-7540.
*SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.samhsa.gov, September 17, 2015