Mental healthcare is often very impersonal. Typically, patients with depression or anxiety follow the following steps:
1. See a psychiatrist
2. Try an antidepressant
3. Wait weeks to discuss their progress
4. Change dosage or drug
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until recovery.
This process takes months, but patients often handle issues, such as side effects, on their own. Without a professional to turn to, treatment takes a physical and emotional toll on patients.
At Prairie, we make sure that our members have continuous support throughout their care journey. As a Care Partner, I connect with patients from the get-go. And as a result, I can personalize care to a patient’s unique needs. Here, I’ll share some of the ways I’ve supported patients in the past.
Treatment often takes a physical and emotional toll on patients.
Many experience intense emotions that make their mental health journey too difficult to continue. That’s why I strive to support patients and their personal needs.
I used to work as a facilitator for group therapy. One day, a patient was so overcome with anxiety that she could not enter the room; luckily, I was able to talk to her one-on-one. By listening to her, I was able to understand why she was feeling so anxious. After talking things through and doing some breathing exercises together, she felt ready to join the group. Later, in her checkout, she shared that our one-on-one time was the highlight of her day. It’s those kinds of moments that remind me how important it is to have a personal connection with patients.
Navigating treatment is tough; many patients simply choose to put their mental health on the back-burner.
From taking time off work for appointments to handling ineffective care, there’s a lot to handle. With a Care Partner, patients are able to take some of the guesswork out of their treatment. Whenever members need me, I’m available to chat about concerns or confusions. Members can count on me to provide tips, reminders, and check-ins.
For example, I recently worked with a patient who had no motivation to do anything with his day; even texting took most of his energy. But I knew that there were ways to help; I introduced him to behavioral activation, one strategy that helps patients manage their depression. I worked with him to do one thing for himself every day, even if it was something small like listening to soothing music. This is why I think it’s so important to listen to patients. By doing so, I can provide them with the tools and resources that are appropriate for them.
It’s difficult for patients to keep track of their symptoms and side effects.
To make matters worse, half an hour with a psychiatrist is not enough time to cover a whole month of mental health happenings. Unsurprisingly, patients often give up before they find a medication that works. That’s why I focus on making sure our members have the support they need during their care journey.
For example, I’ve seen a patient who had tried many medications, and didn’t have the time with his psychiatrist to truly understand what he was taking. When we started working together, he told me that he wanted to stop taking medications all together.
Thankfully, I was able to see him multiple times per week. We were able to discuss the dangers of stopping his medications early, and with his permission, work with his psychiatrist to discuss his treatment. If I had not been able to hear his story, he may have experienced serious complications from not taking his medications, making recovery unlikely.
As a Care Partner, I understand that recovering from depression and anxiety is a rough road.
But it doesn’t have to be. We believe in empowering our members by working closely with them and their psychiatrists. And as a result, patients experience many benefits — they’re able to make more confident decisions about their care and take control of their mental health — that results in better outcomes and faster recoveries. By empowering our patients with on-demand support and regular check-ins, we’re able to make sure their mental healthcare is the best it can possibly be.