Professional Development

Steps to Integrate Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Services

Steps to Integrate Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Services

Split treatment remains a challenge and has been shown to be detrimental to our patients and clients. This becomes more significant when it involves a patient population with several comorbidities. Patients with both mental health and substance use treatment needs are particularly vulnerable to split treatment, and integrating substance use treatment and mental health services is not only advised but also essential if we are to make meaningful changes.

Clinician Burnout: Does The System Really Care?

Clinician Burnout: Does The System Really Care?

The system has its role to play. It needs to empower clinicians and advocates, patients and clients, if there are interests in decreasing staff turnover and restoring trust. If burnout is to be addressed and prevented and self-care promoted, we all have to work together. And, these efforts must be supported by the system, if we are to reach our goals and continue working effectively and with the passion with which we came into this field.

Burnout: An Epidemic

Burnout: An Epidemic

Cynicism, depression, and lethargy are some of the manifestations of burnout. Burnout is present in about 21-67% of mental health professionals. The ramifications can be devastating for our patients and clients, our clinicians and advocates, and for our agencies and the healthcare system, as a whole. Burnout can and must be prevented. Self-care can and must be promoted. Here are four reasons why.

Basic Integrated Care Skills for Non-Medical Staff: Likelihood of Death

Basic Integrated Care Skills for Non-Medical Staff: Likelihood of Death

Kate looked at Roger and said: “I am feeling more and more empowered each day. Peter is opening up to me.  However, he keeps talking about dying and about his non-stop cough.  How do I best support him?”

Many of the same principles required for supporting someone going through pain and loss can also be applied to assisting someone who is battling a terminal illness.  

5 tips to help engage your patients and clients

5 tips to help engage your patients and clients

Patient and client engagement is a challenge across all aspects of clinical care and more so in mental health, especially for those who feel forced into treatment. There is no single best definition for patient or client engagement, but I usually describe it as the active patient and client involvement in his or her care for best outcomes. 

Symptom Contextualization: 2 Reasons Why

Symptom Contextualization: 2 Reasons Why

“I used to just equate hearing voices with schizophrenia,” said Clara, a clinician employed at the Hope Center. “Now, I know how naive of me that was. I walked in the room expecting it to be psychosis related to schizophrenia, not realizing that it could have been a physical or a different mental health issue. I feel embarrassed and wonder how often I have misdiagnosed clients who have been under my care,” Clara added.

Psychosis-Symptom Contextualization: 5 rule outs

Psychosis-Symptom Contextualization: 5 rule outs

Farah is a 49-year-old female, who complains of difficulty sleeping (insomnia), feeling sad (depressed mood), and has held the belief that her daughter, Mia, was stealing her money and was trying to poison her food (paranoia).  Ron, the psychiatrist seeing Farah for the first time, examined her and noticed a lump (nodule) in her neck, some hand tremors, and weight loss.  Ron quickly assessed for acute risk, referred Farah to an endocrinologist, who confirmed a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, treated Farah, and the psychiatric symptoms, including paranoia, subsided.

Symptom Contextualization: Introducing a New and Key Concept

Symptom Contextualization: Introducing a New and Key Concept

Arianna’s dream was to become a researcher.  “My older brother has been sick and suffering a lot, and I want to help him and also help stop suffering in the world.”  She often said these words to herself, as a way to remember that keeping her promise alive meant hard work, keeping up with great grades, and maintaining her extracurricular activities.  Arianna wanted to be sure she was doing all the right things to get ready for college and in preparation for graduate school.  At age 15; however, Arianna suddenly developed some unusual and disturbing symptoms…

Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health

Common to most community health clinics, waiting areas are usually crowded with patients to be seen, and it was no different this time for staff psychiatrist, Dr. Davidman. Though newly recruited, he managed to quickly develop a “well-liked” reputation with patients, generally greeting everyone waiting to be seen. "I notice many things in this waiting area, but one thing catches my attention the most: many clients and patients often stop me to ask for food." This was the doctor’s personal reflection about complex issues that needed direct attention.

Basic Integrated Care Skills for Non-Medical Staff: Likelihood of Death

Basic Integrated Care Skills for Non-Medical Staff: Likelihood of Death

Kate looked at Roger and said: “I am feeling more and more empowered each day. Peter is opening up to me.  However, he keeps talking about dying and about his non-stop cough.  How do I best support him?”

Many of the same principles required for supporting someone going through pain and loss can also be applied to assisting someone who is battling a terminal illness.  

Preventing Burnout From a System Perspective

Preventing Burnout From a System Perspective

The system has its role to play. It needs to empower clinicians and advocates, patients and clients, if there are interests in decreasing staff turnover and restoring trust. If burnout is to be addressed and prevented and self-care promoted, we all have to work together. And, these efforts must be supported by the system, if we are to reach our goals and continue working effectively and with the passion with which we came into this field.

Preventing Burnout: Self-Care for Clinicians and Advocates

Preventing Burnout: Self-Care for Clinicians and Advocates

Cynicism, depression, and lethargy are some of the manifestations of burnout. Burnout is present in about 21-67% of mental health professionals. The ramifications can be devastating for our patients and clients, our clinicians and advocates, and for our agencies and the healthcare system, as a whole. Burnout can and must be prevented. Self-care can and must be promoted. Here are four reasons why.

Integrating Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Services: The How To and The 5 Steps

Integrating Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Services: The How To and The 5 Steps

And so it went. Five steps:

  1. Ask,

  2. Assess,

  3. Formulate,

  4. Implement, and

  5. Track.

 These five steps are simply part of the key strategies to successfully integrating substance use treatment and mental health services.  

Mood Stabilizers: The First Five

Mood Stabilizers: The First Five

“I am starting to have an idea about the mood stabilizers. There are so many of them. How do I break them down to learn the basics about each one?”  Lily posed this question to Dawn, who had started with an overview of the Mood Stabilizers.

Basic Knowledge of Antipsychotics: The How and The Next Five

Basic Knowledge of Antipsychotics: The How and The Next Five

“Haldol and Prolixin.  A few of the patients and clients are on Thorazine. How is it different from Haldol and Prolixin?”  

Likelihood of Death: The 10 Reasons Why

Likelihood of Death: The 10 Reasons Why

Kate looked at Roger and said: “I am feeling more and more empowered each day. Peter is opening up to me.  However, he keeps talking about dying and about his non-stop cough.  How do I best support him?”

Many of the same principles required for supporting someone going through pain and loss can also be applied to assisting someone who is battling a terminal illness.  

Finding Your Passion

Finding Your Passion

Carl, a social work director, is much loved by all staff, his clients, his supervisors and colleagues.  When talking about him, some will say how nice he is, others, how contagious of a smile he has, and some others, how energetic and driven he is.  At times, they will ask him: “Carl, do you not get tired?” to which, he will respond, “I hope I do, I just learn to channel it.  I know how and when to listen to my body, how to refuel as fast as possible and I just know how to keep it going.” Carl is an example of someone who is living a life with purpose.  However, this had not always been the case.

Quality time with our children – 4 tips for the busy professional parent

Quality time with our children – 4 tips for the busy professional parent

Melissa, a newly hired medical director, is in charge of supervising 3 clinicians, providing direct care to her own caseload, and managing the productivity reports of all the clinic staff.  Melissa is happily married and also the mother of 2 young children, ages 2 and 4 years.  She is fully satisfied with her childcare arrangements during the day, comforted that her children are safe and well taken care of.  But scheduling childcare is not without its challenges. 

Psychosis-Symptom Contextualization

   Psychosis-Symptom Contextualization

Farah is a 49-year-old female, who complains of difficulty sleeping (insomnia), feeling sad (depressed mood), and has held the belief that her daughter, Mia, was stealing her money and was trying to poison her food (paranoia).  Ron, the psychiatrist seeing Farah for the first time, examined her and noticed a lump (nodule) in her neck, some hand tremors, and weight loss.  Ron quickly assessed for acute risk, referred Farah to an endocrinologist, who confirmed a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, treated Farah, and the psychiatric symptoms, including paranoia, subsided.