Treating your physical and mental health under one roof

Collaborative Care - Mental health services at St. Vincent's Primary Care

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - One doctor’s office is taking a one-stop-shop approach when it comes to mental health.

Enter the doors at St. Vincent’s Primary Care Hoover, and in addition to getting physical exams, you’ll be handed a tablet and asked to fill out what’s known as a PHQ-9. It’s essentially a questionnaire to help identify if mental health care is also needed.

"Sometimes the patient can’t even name that they’re depressed, but all the symptoms that they are reporting kind of lead to that,” said Kimberly Wigley, St. Vincent’s East Director of Behavioral Health.

The clinic is using an integrated care model, which places a social worker in the building to address patients’ mental health needs.

"It’s all right here. You don’t have to go to another physician’s office,” said Susan Sellers, president of the St. Vincent’s Foundation. “They can sit there with the social worker and schedule an appointment or if they are not busy, go ahead and start visiting with them.”

Sellers was approached a few years back by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham about creating Alabama’s first integrated care model.

“If they determine the patient actually needs to see a psychiatrist then through tele-health we can have access to the psychiatrist,” said Sellers.

The hope is to make your mental health checkups an important part of your physical ones and make people more proactive in seeking treatment.

“People usually don’t think twice about getting care for heart problems or diabetes, but for mental health, that has a lot of stigma attached to it,” said Wigley.

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