National Alliance on Mental Illness
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(800) 950-NAMI; firstname.lastname@example.org
Engaging in Primary Health Care
Health care providers are a key part in improving and maintaining overall wellness. They have access to tests and information that can help identify issues and areas of need. There are steps you can make to ensure the best from your primary health care visits.
New Health Care Providers
It can be hard to trust and get comfortable with visiting a health care provider. Many people delay or avoid going. This is human nature. As a way of avoiding this challenge, some people rely solely on emergency department care. It is important to know that this is more difficult to manage. There are often long lines and the care is usually very fragmented.
Think about ways that would make you feel more comfortable seeing a provider on an outpatient basis. Finding someone to go with you, perhaps a trusted friend, family member or, if available, a case manager, might provide the right amount of support and help overcome any anxieties. It may take some time to be comfortable with the staff and a new health care environment, but once this is in place, care will be better in the long term.
Changing Health Care Providers
Changes in health care providers, while stressful, are common. One way to reduce this stress is to know your own health issues and what has been done to address any problems in the past. If the information is available, then the new health care provider will have a better chance to be a partner in developing a new care plan.
Many people report they have care that is all over the place, resulting in lack of communication between providers. Some people overcome this by engaging in a medical home. A medical home is not a buildingó it is a concept. Medical home services are usually based out of a primary care office. Medical home services embrace the idea that there is a person and system that individuals visit to receive their care in an organized way and in a central location.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a "patient-centered medical home integrates patients as active participants in their own health and well-being. Patients are cared for by a physician who leads the medical team that coordinates all aspects of preventive, acute and chronic needs of patients using the best available evidence and appropriate technology. These relationships offer patients comfort, convenience and optimal health throughout their lifetimes."
You may need to advocate for access to a medical home; modern medical care is very fragmented in many places. Home is where the heart is. Getting good health care is more likely to occur if a person with mental illness has, or makes, a medical home.