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PCPs Breaking Even on Mental Health Costs

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, July 10, 2014

"The provider asked her what was going on, what had changed, and she said, not too much," says Cormier, adding that the patient indicated she was stressed. "The provider asked her a little bit more about her stress and she said, 'When I stress, I eat, and I probably eat the things I shouldn't.' So the provider was able to say in that moment, 'I have a colleague here, and she works with different ways to manage stress. Would you like to meet her?' "

Cormier was that colleague the provider identified, and she says she is now working on helping the patient work through different stress management techniques.

"That's a patient that wouldn't necessarily have a major depressive episode, she wouldn't have [self-] identified, wouldn't have come in to her provider, and said 'I'm depressed,'" says Cormier. Yet, "she was depressed. She had a huge amount of stress that was impacting her health."

Keeping Body and Mind Together
When patients with a diagnosis of diabetes, chronic pain, or other disease also have a mental illness, even a mild depressive episode, it is harder to for those patients to take care of themselves, which worsens their other medical conditions. The cost to health systems is enormous, and so is the cost to the public because many Medicaid patients have these comorbid conditions.

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