Why All Doctors Should Be Concerned with Patients' Mental Health
How well you are physically, mentally, and emotionally is highly dependent on how well you care for each independently. When you’re struggling with one, it usually affects the others. This is why all doctors should be concerned with their patients’ mental health and emotional wellness as they treat them physically.
A patient’s mental health should remain a focal point no matter what they’re being treated for to ensure proper care that generates positive results for their health and wellness journey. This sort of care is only possible when medical professionals make the extra effort to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Here are three reasons why medical professionals must communicate with each other and pay special attention to their patient’s mental health.
Create a Safe, Holistic Healthcare Plan
When medical professionals don't communicate, it decreases efficiency and, ultimately, patient care safety. This is because the only pathway to safe, secure health and wellness is through addressing it holistically.
Unfortunately, silos in healthcare are present because most people see a variety of healthcare providers that don’t communicate with one another. As a result, everything each provider learns about a patient stays with them, instead of their findings being communicated to every medical professional involved in the patient’s care. This can lead to ineffective treatment, duplicate treatment, increased medical care costs, unsafe combinations of medication, and so forth.
Information technology systems, like Electronic Health Records, allow medical professionals to update and view patient information and facilitate treatment all in the same system. But effective use of these systems starts with medical providers committing to treating their patients from a holistic perspective rather than a fragmented one.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to have surgery. Your Primary Care Physician should communicate with your therapist, the surgeon, and your caregivers to ensure you’re cared for appropriately after surgery. Communicating with your therapist ensures your mental health recovers along with your physical body.
Communicating with the surgeon ensures they’re informed of your mental state and can make an accurate determination on whether surgery is appropriate. Also, being in constant communication with the surgeon ensures your physical recovery goes as planned. If your PCP only communicates with one or none of these professionals, it could slow or prevent your recovery altogether.
Additionally, when medical professionals collaborate and communicate effectively, it allows them to form a relationship with one another to ensure they’re all on the same page with the best care for the patient.
Another reason medical professionals should communicate with each other and pay special attention to their patient’s mental health is to eliminate the negative stigmas attached to mental health.
Normalise Mental Health for Patients and Professionals
Unfortunately, the general public feeds into inaccurate stereotypes about individuals living with a mental health challenge, but medical professionals also display bias in their treatment of these individuals.
However, transparent, consistent communication between doctors, mental health specialists, and other medical professionals helps fuel the movement to normalise conversations around mental health.
When medical professionals communicate across disciplines and specialisations, they can learn more about each other’s roles and how they can best work together to break barriers and eliminate stigmas in the medical field.
For instance, a therapist and a PCP can converse about a patient they have in common. Their conversation leads to the therapist learning more about the PCP’s role and vice versa. That leads to how the two roles complement one another and lead to a patient’s best chance at a healthy mind and body.
Lastly, medical professionals who communicate effectively and work together can confidently refer patients to professionals who can help them more sufficiently in areas they need specialised care.
Refer Patients to Professionals Who Can Actually Help
When doctors communicate with each other, they can assess whether a patient needs additional support. Then, they can refer their patients to professionals who can provide the support they need and deserve to continue on their journey to being wholly healthy.
For example, a primary care physician’s role in treating mental health concerns for their patients varies, but most PCPs at least begin the conversation around mental health support with their patients. Depending on how those conversations go, the next step is likely to refer a mental health professional who can truly dig into their patient’s mental health challenges.
Ultimately, patients have a better chance at managing their mental health challenges and ensuring their physically healthy when they can work with specialists who can provide the best treatment for their specific needs.
All doctors should absolutely be concerned with their patient’s mental health if they hope to heal them physically. Good physical health is directly connected to good mental health. So, patients and doctors need to advocate for whole-body health and commit to communicating and collaborating with intention.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S.
She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to health and wellness, including mental health awareness and addiction education.