Mental Health and Primary Care

Nov 18, 2013
By: Charlotte Mullican, Senior Advisor for Mental Health Research, AHRQ

We have learned that recognizing and treating mental health problems is an important part of good health. Mental health is just as important as physical health because the mind and body are connected.

In fact, it has been proven that if people have both physical issues (e.g. Diabetes or heart disease) and mental health issues (e.g. anxiety or depression), they do much better if they are treated for their mental and physical issues than if they are only treated for their physical issues.

Primary care doctors see patients with many different health issues, including people with mental health disorders. Some primary care doctors also have a mental health provider in their offices that can help those who need this care.

Take a look at the symptoms of some mental health issues. If you think you have some of these symptoms you should speak to your doctor, nurse or other health care provider about how you are feeling.

Your doctor can do several things to help you, including:

  • Enlist the help of a mental health provider
  • Explore treatment options and provide ongoing support to ensure success
  • Prescribe medication if necessary to help with symptoms

After you see a doctor, it is also important for you to follow their directions and complete the treatment recommendations. It may take a little time to see some positive results.

Often, people get discouraged because they don't get immediate relief from symptoms or don't want to take the time to attend appointments. However, we know that people who receive treatment and follow the doctor’s plan can get better.

If you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, please tell someone right away and:

  • Call your doctor
  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room

Don't hesitate to ask a family member or a friend to help you get connected to help as soon as possible. You can also make a free call, 24-hours a day, to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). These trained counselors will help connect you to a suicide crisis center near you.

Want to comment on this blog? Visit on Facebook or on Twitter and use #MentalHealthMatters to provide feedback and start the conversation.

Tagged Treatment | Basics | Help