24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-888-279-8188
24-Hour Crisis Line:
Follow Us:  Facebook-logo

Family Guidance Blog

How the Health Care Home Solution Can Improve Patient Outcomes

St Joseph on Cutting Edge With Health Care Home Initiative

Health Care HomeIn America today, many citizens believe that information silos can be dangerous and that it is important for various departments to share vital information and work together to keep us safe. This idea that information silos create unnecessary dangers has also reached into health care as well. The Health Care Home program is based on the reality that providing integrated treatment across healthcare disciplines is in the very best interests toward patient well-being.

The Goal of Health Care Home

Almost 68 percent of those living with chronic mental illness also live with a chronic health condition. Studies show that the presence of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, can worsen the symptoms of a health condition. For too long, many individuals have been treated by one caregiver for one issue, and had to see another provider for another condition — while the two health providers weren’t working in tandem for the best outcome. When mental and physical health providers work together and share pertinent information, consumer outcomes improve.

Not only are outcomes improved, but they are improved at far less cost. The goal is to reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations and Medicaid costs for patients with persistent mental illness — while providing high-quality, coordinated behavioral health care and primary health care that links physical health needs with mental health needs. Most importantly, the Health Care Home initiative helps consumers live a longer, healthier life.

At the Family Guidance Center our Health Care Home program of integrated health care has successfully improved treatment for 150 children and nearly 500 adults during the past year alone. If your loved one is living with both a chronic physical or mental health condition, please contact us and see how Health Care Home could improve their wellness.

Area Health Centers Work Together to Provide Better Access to Care

11336575_sFar too often, emergency rooms are being sought out for problems that could be handled in a traditional doctor’s office or an urgent care setting. Research shows that healthcare access ranks as one of the top community health concerns, but the emergency room was never designed to be the first point of contact in the process of receiving care. According to Brent VanConia who serves as president of St. Mary’s Health Center, area providers and health centers are working together to make healthcare more accessible through means other than local emergency departments as well as educate the public regarding their best-suited options.

A News Tribune article provides some background on what is being done to minimize costs and provide better access to care. Because emergency rooms are designed for elevated trauma, they are expensive to maintain and operate. And according to Capital Region Medical Center’s VP of operations, Janet Weckenborg, those resources need to be available at a moment’s notice.

One suggestion to provide better care access is to increase Medicaid coverage within the state. But while expanding access to Medicaid will improve the situation, experts agree it is not a fix-all. Other hospitals are looking to implement a solution like that provided by Heartland Health in St. Joseph. Currently, the hospital prioritizes emergency room patients based on the severity of their condition, and while everyone is evaluated, minor cases are reviewed by a nurse or nurse practitioner and are later “navigated” to other facilities for appropriate care. The model has resulted in less minor visits to the emergency room.

Mental health is no different. Expanding access to all types of healthcare, both physical and mental, is important to preserving a person’s overall well-being. Sustaining regular communication with the right provider is also important to ensure patients receive the highest level of care. Many times, the physical symptoms that accompany a chronic mental health problem can become severe — leading to further emergency room visits –while the mental health problem at the cause remains undiagnosed and untreated. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center provide screenings and several other mental healthcare services, regardless of income. For more information on how to set up a visit, call Family Guidance Center today.



PTSD – How You Can Help Someone in Need

PTSD 1Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD) can be brought on by a number of different events. Victims of violent crime such as rape or robbery, those who have served time in war, and even women who have undergone traumatic childbirth experiences can develop such disorders. While individuals with ASD will only exhibit symptoms within the first 30 days after the event, those living with PTSD may experience symptoms that persist indefinitely.

PTSD can make it difficult to accomplish daily routines. Tasks such as attending work, going to school, or managing finances may create significant anxiety or difficulty for someone with the disorder. Individuals with PTSD may suddenly seem detached from loved ones and uninterested in things that were once important to them.

Fortunately, PTSD is treatable and many of those who seek treatment experience a high rate of success in adjusting back to a normal life. Many times we feel as though we have to fix things when a loved one exhibits problematic symptoms. But an article presented by the Mayo Clinic suggests that there are more effective ways to be of support.

It’s important to let your loved ones know that their feelings are important to you and that you are willing to listen when they are ready to share. However, they must first be open to discussion so the best course of action is to just be reassuring and not pushy.

When they do express a readiness to communicate, pick a time and place where you can quietly sit down and talk. Don’t interrupt or interject your own feelings on the matter. It’s best to simply listen. If the conversation becomes overwhelming at any point, it’s ok to initiate a break or resume the conversation at a later date. Take all talk of suicide seriously and never leave a person in this state alone or with any items that might be used for harm.

Learn the facts about ASD and PTSD – those who are informed are better prepared to help those in need. Family Guidance Center is a great resource for help and has mental health professionals available to help walk your loved one through the process of recovery.

April Marks National Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol-use disorders affect over 18 million people living across the country. But the effects of alcohol are even broader still – children, spouses, other loved ones, and friends also carry the burden of alcoholism. It is estimated that a quarter of all American children have resided in households where one or more family members had an alcohol problem.

According to a report revealed on NCADD’s website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy somewhere in the neighborhood of $223.5 billion each year. The price associated with alcohol abuse comes in the form of lost productivity at work, increased healthcare costs, extra burdens on the legal and criminal justice systems, and vehicular accidents stemming from intoxication.

This year marks the 27th anniversary that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Since 1987, every April the organization calls awareness to the issue in the hopes of educating the public regarding the dangers of alcohol and reducing stigma that frequently stands in the way of people getting help.

This year’s theme is entitled “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow,” and highlights the importance of early prevention and treatment efforts. Data shows that adolescent alcohol use which precedes the age of 15 quadruples a person’s risk of developing an adult-onset alcohol addiction as compared to those who didn’t start consuming alcohol until at least the age of 20.

Children with poor support networks or those with depression or anxiety are at higher risk of alcohol abuse. So are kids who experience trouble in school or who have family members who abuse alcohol. Studies show that children do care what their parents think about underage drinking and that parental involvement and education are key to decreasing levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is tied to higher instances of crime, divorce, car accidents, and domestic abuse. If you or someone you love needs help coping with alcoholism, the Family Guidance Center can help you take those first critical steps toward sobriety and living a happier, healthier life.


Substance Abuse and ADHD Often Linked

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. It can be difficult to pinpoint whether drug use causes mental health concerns or if undiagnosed mental health problems open the door for substance abuse. In all actuality, experts say that it can occur both ways. Those living with mental health problems might use drugs to cope with symptoms, while other individuals under the influence of drugs discover that the capacity to disrupt the brain’s normal development from the drug use may lead to compromised mental health.

A Psychology Today article also points out that adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance abuse as their brains are still growing and developing. Ironically, ADHD in adolescence has been linked to higher rates of drug abuse. A decade-long study whose results were released in 2011, uncovered that individuals with ADHD had nearly a 50 percent higher risk of turning to substance abuse at some point in their lives when compared to others without an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD 4Some parents questions whether it is the ADHD medications themselves that lead to a greater likelihood of later substance abuse. Because there were almost 3 million children and adolescents prescribed ADHD medications in 2007 alone, it’s understandable why parents might be concerned. Though, many studies on the subject can put that fear to rest as there has been no credible evidence linking stimulant use among kids with ADHD to higher instances of drug experimentation or later substance abuse.

In fact, research seems to support the exact opposite. One study made public in 2008, examined 114 children with ADHD for half a decade. And while 94 percent received stimulant treatment, the group was at nearly a 75 percent reduced risk of developing a problem with substance abuse despite their use of medication.

Experts say that it’s important to be aware of the co-existence of mental health and substance use disorders. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center can help individuals sort through symptoms so that one or both conditions can be correctly diagnosed and treated. If you suspect that a loved one may be affected by either an issue of mental health or substance abuse, help is available through Family Guidance Center.