Back to Articles

Mental Health Awareness Month

May 01, 2024 | by Dr. Alexis Freedberg, Medical Director Behavioral Health

"Without mental health, there can be no true physical health."

-Dr. Brock Chisholm, first Director General of the World Health Organization

Often when we think about our health, we focus principally on physical conditions that involve how our bodies feel, move, and function. Yet mental health conditions are increasingly common, and our mental health is equally important to our overall health and quality of life. Furthermore, co-occurring mental health conditions are known to worsen physical health conditions, and vice-versa. Studies have shown, for example, that untreated depression can worsen chronic pain syndromes, and that sleep apnea can worsen cognitive function.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and ConcertoCare places mental health conditions–including major depression, anxiety disorders, and neurocognitive disorders like dementia–at the forefront of our care model.  Considering that an estimated 1 in 4 Americans suffers from a mental disorder, we integrate assessment and management of mental disorders at every step of a patient’s journey, leveraging the expertise of clinical social workers and psychiatric clinicians.

Mr. L’s story exemplifies the power of integrating mental health care into home-based healthcare delivery. A retired teacher in his sixties, he resides with his nephew and enjoys reading, volunteering with his church community, and hosting his loved ones during holidays. He lives with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and high blood pressure. Recently he was hospitalized for the second time after a skin infection led to sepsis, a life-threatening condition requiring intensive care. During a post-discharge visit in his home by a ConcertoCare provider, it became apparent that his skin infections had resulted from compulsive skin-picking, a behavior which Mr. L acknowledged despite tremendous shame. Mr. L accepted a connection to a clinical social worker at ConcertoCare, who completed a behavioral health assessment with Mr. L. This assessment clarified Mr. L’s goals: to avoid further infections from skin picking and to spend more time outside his home.  The ConcertoCare social worker leveraged the interdisciplinary team in developing a comprehensive care plan. Consultation with the Medical Director of Behavioral Health led to the clarification of the diagnosis of Excoriation Disorder and psychopharmacologic treatment options.  The ConcertoCare nurse care manager implemented interventions involving barrier methods, wound care, and meticulous hand hygiene, while the social worker implemented cognitive-behavioral therapies aimed at reducing the compulsive behavior. Together, these interventions helped Mr. L pick less at his skin, eliminate skin infections, and feel empowered to spend more time out in public. 

Though public awareness of mental health challenges is growing, many individuals lack access to treatment due to stigma, logistical and financial barriers, and a shortage of culturally responsive high-quality care. At ConcertoCare we believe in every individual’s right to holistic health care that integrates mental health from the get-go, this month and always.  

QaHoA2SE.webp  Rywq9U6W.webp