Top of Mind: Ending the stigma around mental health

July 19, 2018

When it comes to health, it can be easy to focus exclusively on physical health - staying up-to-date on annual exams and screenings, committing to a regular exercise routine, eating nutritious foods, etc.  However, there is another important facet of our health that indivdiuals should not ignore - mental health.

"Our mental health has a profound impact on our overall well-being," says Jennifer Fritzler, LCSW, program director of the IOP at Colorado Plains Medical Center.  "It influences how we socialize with others, how productive we are at work, how we make decisions, and how we cope with the stresses of everyday life.  Our goals at Colorado Plains Medical Center is to empower people to prioritize both their physical and mental health so they can lead their best lives."

Mental health conditions are quite common.  According to key findings published by Mental Health America, one in five adults has a mental health condition.  This equates to more than 40 million Americans who are affected.  As common as these conditions are, there has long been a reluctance to openly acknowledge and discuss mental health concerns.

"It is essential to create a safe, supportive and accepting environment where talking about mental health is not only okay, but it is strongly encouraged," notes Fritzler.  "Just as most people wouldn't think twice about seeing a doctor for chest pain or other serious physical symptoms, it is important that individuals with mental health conditions proactively seek help and get the medical attention they need before their overall health is at risk."

Traumatic life experiences, family mental health history, brain chemistry, and genetic makeup can all adversely affect mental health.  Early warning signs of a mental health conditon can include:

Excessive or insufficient eating or sleeping

Voluntary detachment from people and usual activities

Inability to perform daily tasks

Low energy levels

Unexplained aches and pains

Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

Feeling "numb" or like nothing matters

Feeling helpless or hopeless

Unusual levels of confusion, anger, worry, fear, and forgetfulness

Severe mood swings

Thoughts of harming oneself or others

Reoccurring thoughts and memories that won't go away

Thankfully, the prognosis for mental health conditions is good.  In fact, most people who seek treatment for a mental health condition do show improvement.  The benefits of seeking help and treatment can make a positive difference in overall quality of life.

Colorado Plains Medical Center offers both outpatient and inpatient mental health services for adults age 55 and older.  The Healthier You outpatient program incorporates a variety of treatment modalities such as skill training, functional assessments, educational sessions, exercise, relaxation, coping skills, medication management, and group therapy on a daily basis, Monday through Thursday mornings.  It is designed to treat those with a primary psychiatric diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, or complicated grief that interferes with their daily functioning.

Those indivdiuals who have more complex problems might be eligible for inpatient care at CPMC's inpatient behavioral unit.  A treatment team of medical and clinical professionals work together to pinpoint the nature of behavioral issues in order to begin the recovery process.  A holistic approach is emphasized with services including:  pastoral care, therapeutic exercises, medication management, nutritional services, family participation, physical/occupational therapy, and individual and group therapies among others.

For more information on Colorado Plains Medical Center's mental health services, call 970-542-4364 to get connected with the right care that can improve and enhance mental well-being.  Visit www.mentalhealth.gov for other suggestions, statistics, and information on mental health.