One of the best items to put on your new year calendar is an appointment with your primary care physician or PCP. This habit is so very important for your general health and – as it turns out – for your mental health.
When you have concerns about your mental health it can be understandably tough to seek advice. It helps to have an established relationship with someone you trust – ideally someone who knows you and your past.
One answer? Look to your family physician or PCP when you have mental health concerns. They play an important role in your overall health – general and behavioral. In fact, the development of integrated care, the systematic coordination of general and behavioral health care, has been advancing for many years. PCPs are becoming more and more skilled in identifying behavioral health concerns in their patients..
Once you describe what you are facing, a physician may ask a few questions about signs and symptoms, and your environment in general terms. Ideally, PCPs are trained to know when to refer a problem to someone else when it goes beyond their expertise or ability to address. At the same time, mild physical or behavioral issues can be appropriately cared for in a primary care setting without specialists.
If you are given a referral and you acquire behavioral health care services, perhaps with prescribed medication, it is always comforting to have your PCP still guiding your general health care on the road to complete good health.
Additionally, a good PCP can be of help even when you might not be aware you need assistance because he or she has established the trust to obtain candid responses from general questions, such as: How are things at home, do you feel safe, how much do you worry, how well do you sleep or how well are you eating?
What if I don’t have a primary physician?
Finding a primary care physician can be a challenge. Sometimes people get off track when they move, switch doctors or providers, and they simply need to make a concerted effort to reconnect. Sometimes securing a PCP has just not been happening for a variety of reasons, so establishing a new habit requires a lifestyle shift.
But let’s stop right there for a moment. If you have a pressing mental health concern, don’t worry about securing a PCP first, please call our Colorado hotline at 1-844-493-(TALK) 8255. These very helpful confidential services are provided 24/7 and associated with six walk-in crisis centers throughout the Denver-Boulder metro area.
Now back to a PCP search. First, allow plenty of time to research and make your decisions. Many people find it takes longer than expected. Most insurance companies have a “find a doctor” tool to help sure you stay within your insurance network and consider the options. There you will find information about experience and perhaps patient reviews. Or to reach Colorado’s Medicaid Program, the link is Colorado Health First.
Secondly, when you secure a first visit, it is very smart to do some prep work: 1) Have a good grasp of your health care history: prescriptions, chronic conditions and previous procedures; 2) Write down questions you have well in advance, so you cover them all. Appointments can go rather quickly; and 3) Ask the best way to share medical information with the office ahead of time. Sometimes sending information in advance is very helpful.
Here to help
Integrated care is making significant strides. Consequently regular visits with a primary care physician goes a long way toward peace of mind in good general and behavioral health. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you at Community Reach Center. Further we can assist with integrated care options through our Mountainland Pediatrics center and through our Health Home program. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.