The article below is part of an educational series to help the community
better understand Behavioral Health Services (BHS) available to them in
Whenever someone in your house hold gets ill or injured, what do you do?
Do you tell them to get over it and get to school, work, or do you get
them to a professional?
Broken leg: no problem! Wrap it up and get back on the horse! I doubt that
is what you would say or do.
Mental Illness is not all in your head, so to speak. It too is a medical
condition. Depression, Bi-polar disorder, Schizophrenia, are medical conditions,
to name three.
Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants (PA-C) are medical
professionals who work in mental health facilities and are trained to
deal with these diseases, which, if left untreated, can and will make
your life miserable—or even kill you.
Not unlike Cancer, these diseases progress and get worse with time untreated.
The earlier you get to a provider, the better off you will be. I am not
saying you will be cured, though that is possible in some cases. I am
saying that, like some decease processes, one can manage the illness and
function throughout life. Here is the problem, and there are several aspects:
It is very difficult to pre-determine a mental health issue. For example, all of us have suffered from mild depression from time to
time. Kids, struggling with growing up, often feel its affects. So, early
onset is hidden in what we would consider “normal growing up”.
Now, there are some things that do present themselves early and are problematic
from the onset but this is not always the case. The message here is to
get to someone as soon as is possible.
Most people start their respective quest for mental health issues with
their primary care physician. This is fact. It is not something I’ve made up. In most cases this
is a mistake. It probably stems from a misunderstanding as to what a psychiatrist
is and what mental illness is. I will not bore you details but psychiatrists
are medical doctors that have completed medical school and specialize
in Mental Health. Mental Illness is a medical condition and can be managed.
You would not go to an Oncologist for the broken leg mentioned above,
Psychiatrists often prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms and to
assist the brain in processes that it is having difficulty accomplishing. Some psychiatrists also do therapy, but in this day and age few do. They,
instead, rely on therapists to get the therapy done. The combination of
medications and therapy often has good results. The problem is that we,
as a society, want the magic pill that helps us feel better almost instantly.
We take our anti-biotics until we feel better and then we stop, much to
the consternation of our physician. This is also the case with mental
health patients; they take their meds until they feel better and stop,
causing themselves to backpedal. Then it starts over again. They feel
worse, go to the doctor, get their meds, take them, feel better. You get
All of the meds psychiatrists use are powerful. Some are addicting. Any reasonable psychiatrist will not prescribe medications
that are not useful for your situation. They are going to use meds that
will help your condition, otherwise “evidence based”. So,
if one doctor prescribes something for you that you like, but is not indicated
for your condition, chances are a psychiatrist is going to change it.
Not all doctors are created/trained equal for all illnesses and age groups.
Just about all mental health systems across the country are over loaded and it does not help that the systems are dealing with both people who
want certain meds without due cause and others who do not adhere to their
respective medication regimen. The thinking that one can go to a professional
person, get what they want when they want it is false, frustrating, and
would not be professionally responsible. So is the person that continually
stops using meds that are helping them and end up back in the facility
because they stopped their meds and are now suffering again.
Jeff Rice is the Director of Behavioral Health Services at Campbell County
Memorial Hospital. BHS provides professional mental health and substance
abuse services to the community through prevention, education, advocacy
and treatment for all ages in the community. Appointments are available
Monday–Friday from 8 am–5 pm. Call 307.688.5000. Learn more at