Stress Illness and The Health Care System (4)

After 4.5 hours of instruction, two dozen mental health clinicians (MHCs) with varied training and experience were able to find the diagnosis in a half-dozen simulated stress illness patients.  So I also talked to them about reaching out to medical clinicians to teach them how to explain the following concepts to their patients:

  1. Stress can cause real symptoms.
  2. Effective treatment is available.
  3. A Stress Check-Up is the best way to uncover hidden stresses.

(More advice on how to reach out is in two earlier consecutive posts here and here.)

If medical clinicians can be persuaded to refer a difficult patient or two to a MHC to receive the stigma-free service of a Stress Check-Up, the likelihood is that everyone will be pleased with the results.  This will encourage more referrals and initiate a process of mutual learning whereby the medical and MH clinicians learn more and more about which patients will respond to this approach.

Reaching out can be initiated by medical clinicians, too.  If they can identify MHCs who might be interested, they could explain the following concepts:

  1. Obtaining a chronology of the patient’s physical symptoms.
  2. Taking a Stress History (not much different than the familiar psychological interview).
  3. Looking for connections between stresses and symptoms.
  4. Treating the stresses they find to see if the physical symptoms respond.

When both types of clinicians reach out across the mind-body divide, they will close the largest blind spot in the health care system, significantly improve their job satisfaction and relieve a tremendous amount of needless suffering.

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