The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 26.2 percent of Americans, or one in four people, suffer from a mental condition in any given year. When you apply the 26.2 percent to the 2004 census estimate, it affects approximately 57.7 million – a massive number of people who could benefit from mental health services.
Access to care is often delayed due to many factors, including limited resources for treatment, difficulties with the stigma that cause people to hide their mental health problem, lack of awareness of the resources available, proximity to care and the cost to the individual with or without insurance.
In general, primary care is the first access point for many patients to the healthcare system. Primary care physicians play important role in detecting mental, behavioral health issues. That means more patients will be turning to their primary care doctors for help with behavioral health problems.
People deal with difficult and stressful events all the time. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions. Yet some people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience–a process that involves effort and purposeful work to overcome adversity.
Resilience is the process of healthy adapting in the face of disaster, trauma, tragedy, overwhelming stress or threats. How can we teach our patients to become resilient? By encouraging the following ten habits:
- Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important as is accepting help and support from others.
- Avoid seeing crises as an insurmountable problem. You have control over how you think and frame stressful events. Stay positive whenever possible.
- Accept changes as normal. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you put your energy into other things you can change.
- Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves that they did not know before a tragedy.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems while rebuilding self-esteem.
- Keep things in perspective. Avoid making the stressful event worse than it is. Try to look at the event in a broader long-term context.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. This enables you to expect things will get better.
- Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find helpful. Exercise regularly.
- Avoid illicit drugs and alcohol.
And as a medical provider, it is our responsibility to deliver the best healthcare and behavioral health support possible to our patients and their families as there are a range of available resources for treating mental health disorders.
-David Whittaker is with Baptist Health Medical Group Behavioral Health.