Anxiety and Depression screenings now being recommended in primary care offices.
Anxiety screenings, oh my! This is such exciting news (and it’s about time!). Psychologists and mental health professionals across the globe have been working to de-stigmatize and incorporate mental health struggles into physicians offices for years. We’ve been trying to help communities connect the dots between physical health and its impact on mental health, and to get more people talking about it. Now, for the first time, the US task force has proposed a recommendation for primary care providers to screen for anxiety and depression. YAY!
No one can deny the spike in mental health issues since the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems like, whatever struggles we were keeping at bay, all bubbled to the surface and became harder to ignore. The things we were managing became less manageable. In our practice specifically, we saw a huge spike in the demand for mental health services. Heightened anxiety, worsened depression, hopelessness, you name it. Times seem tougher now than they did before.
One of the unique opportunities we’ve had at our practice is being connected to several OBGYN offices in the Bay Area. We’ve been able to offer immediate support to women struggling with pre and post perinatal and menopausal issues, as well as generalized anxiety and depression. By having this close of a relationship, we have been able to provide support to the nurses and other staff members about how to identify and talk to their patients, not only about their mental health struggles but about how to seek and receive help. The result of this has been that so many more women have been able to open up and get the support they need.
But what about all the other health care providers? Primary care clinicians? Oncologists? Or nursing staff in the ICU and emergency rooms. If only we could foster these symbiotic relationships where we provide education and support to physicians and nurses alike! Now, however, we might not have to.
We’re hopeful that this new recommendation will bridge the gap between what we could offer and what is needed. Adding a screening will help patients feel that there is a space for them to express their mental health struggles. Now hopefully, “What’s your discomfort and pain level?”, will be followed by, “What’s your anxiety or depression level?”.
If done properly, this screening could act not only as an immediate relief to patients, but also as a preventive tool to avoid more severe mental health symptoms down the road, as early intervention can be critical for people prone to anxiety and depression.
This is such a necessary addition to medical office screenings, and hopefully just the beginning! If you are a patient experiencing anxiety or depression, we hope this means you can start talking to your physician about it. And if you’re a nurse or physician, and would like some support around having these conversations with your patients, give us a call! We’re here to help.
Check out this article to learn more!