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How behavioral health fits in with medical home

Our promise at Affinity Medical Home is to treat the “whole” person. This is done by providing holistic treatment that addresses ALL aspects of our patients’ health in a manner that positively supports our patients and helps to identify barriers that get in the way of effectively managing their chronic illnesses.

Our mental health has a direct effect on our physical health. If this a new concept for you, look in the mirror and ask yourself: Is my head separate from my body or is it directly attached? The point I’m making is that both our mental and physical health concerns needs to be evaluated and treated simultaneously, even though they’ve been viewed and treated as separate issues for decades. There also has been (and continues to be) stigma surrounding the presence of mental health issues, which discourages many people from accessing treatment.

When it comes to treating chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, depression (yes, depression is a chronic illness), etc., the way we think and feel emotionally about our ailment affects our behaviors, and subsequently, how we manage our chronic health condition. Let me illustrate –

Thought: “I’ll never be able to consistently test my blood sugars like my provider tells me to.”

Feeling(s): Discouraged, hopeless, helpless…

Behavior: I do not check my blood sugars regularly and continue to have high blood sugars and feel ill.

This can become a vicious cycle as patients report feeling guilty for not following through with their care plans, which worsens their feelings of discouragement and hopelessness, and further decreases their testing and so on and so forth.

My role as a Behavioral Health/Care Coordinator on the medical home team is to assist patients with addressing mental/emotional concerns that negatively impact effective management of their chronic health conditions.

Barb Viste-Johnson has experience developing clinical therapy programs for residents of all ages, and has presented on a variety of topics, from depression to adolescent development. She is a licensed clinical social worker through the state of Wisconsin. In her free time she enjoys triathlons, kayaking, water skiing, gardening, and spending time with her family & grandchildren.

Barb Viste-Johnson

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