Over the years medical and mental health professionals have focused on improving the healthcare system in the United States. One area of focus has been the integration of mental health assessment into primary care visits. Many primary care medical practices have incorporated psychologists and other mental health professionals into their practices. Flagging the mental health needs of patients in the primary care setting is one route to get connected to a therapist or psychiatrist. More than ever, during these unprecedented times, addressing mental health needs in the medical setting is imperative.

As the patient, if you have questions about your mental health needs you can ask your physician to complete an assessment. In some cases, the physician will bring in a mental health professional who works in their office to complete an assessment and make the appropriate referrals.

Below are some ways you can discuss your mental health and mental health needs with your PCP:

1) Share how you have been feeling and ask to be evaluated for depression and anxiety.

2) Symptoms to share include decrease/increase in appetite and sleep, nervousness, decrease in motivation, changes in mood (e.g., feeling irritable or sad mood), nervousness, trouble concentrating, and thoughts of harming yourself or someone else.

3) Ask your PCP if they have a mental health professional on staff, and state that you would like to speak with them.

4) Ask your PCP for a recommendation or referral to a therapist or psychiatrist.

5) Always ask your PCP to track your symptoms and make a follow-up appointment.

By Lauren Koby, PsyD