By Heidi Karns, LCSW
Behavioral Health Specialist, Ministry Medical Group Eagle River, Rhinelander and Woodruff
There may be days where we do not feel well. We find it hard to concentrate on our favorite television program. We lose interest in the activities we used to love doing. We are finding it hard to sleep at night and continue to wake up throughout the night. Our thoughts are racing and we worry more than usual. As each day passes, we find it more difficult to stop worrying. Most individuals will ignore these signs and symptoms. You may hear them say, “it will pass,” or “it’s just a bad day.” Then one day turns into several days, and then several days turns into several weeks, or even months. What is one to do when these symptoms continue for two weeks or more? Where do we go for help? Is it ok to ask for help? Will I be judged? Will I be labeled?
What are some of the questions that may run through your mind?
I encourage you to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor. Above all I encourage you to make an appointment with your primary care clinician (doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant), and if at all possible, have a close friend or family member attend the appointment with you for support.
Through Ministry Medical Group, we are so fortunate to have a program called Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), which allows us to serve the patient for both their medical and mental health needs. It’s a model of care that strengthens the clinician-patient relationship by replacing episodic care with coordinated care and a long-term relationship. Our team consists of the clinician, certified medical assistant (CMA), team RN, RN case manager, behavioral health specialist or health and wellness specialist, and customer care representatives to help with scheduling and other visit needs.
If and when the above symptoms are identified, the primary care clinician will look to medication assistance (if agreed to), counseling referral, and/or a referral to the behavioral health specialist. Once the patient meets with the behavioral health specialist an assessment will be completed to assess signs and symptoms along with frequency in which the symptoms may occur. The patient and team will then develop a plan of care that will best meet the needs of the patient. Whether it’s a referral to a counselor, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner certified in psychiatric medication, or continued support from a behavioral health specialist will be determined during the visit.
There are several resources within our community that can assist with mental health. I would advise you to first contact your primary care clinician or local county social services office to discuss possible support that may be available to you. Some agencies require a referral from your primary care clinician.
For more information, please contact your local Ministry Medical Group clinic.