Common Mental Health Questions & Answers
Question: What is a Holistic (or Alternative) Approach to Mental Health?
Answer: A “Holistic Approach” (An integrative, comprehensive and collective approach) to mental health is an approach based upon looking at the totality of the person, not just their symptoms or diagnoses, when creating and designing treatment, therapy and wellness options. It’s also an approach based upon a natural approach to wellness that considers the least harmful means of helping the client move forward and helping them overcome their present challenges, obstacles, complaints and symptoms with the least amount of side effects or unintended consequences. It’s also an approach the embraces the concept that the first response to helping someone from a mental health and wellness shouldn’t be reaching for a prescription pill.
A high quality, proactive, holistic mental health and wellness approach helps the client build the mental muscles and a resilient mindset before just handing them a pill to solve their problems. However, in the mental health field, there are circumstances (suicidal or homicidal thoughts, psychosis or psychotic breaks, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, manic episodes, potential for harm to self or others) where a prescription psychotropic approach is needed at least at the time of the crisis. But that doesn’t mean that the first solution to helping every person with a problem should be handing them a pill.
An integrative, holistic (i.e., comprehensive and collective) approach helps clients without causing unnecessary harm, and it encompasses a “whole” view of the client.
Question: What are some of the main differences between practices that take insurance and practices that don’t?
Answer: In my opinion, it’s all about QUALITY. Just like with restaurant and food choices, cars, homes, clothes or furniture, you always have a choice between QUALITY and QUANTITY. Many, but not all, mental health practices that take insurance focus on getting the highest possible number of patients/clients through the doors every day (i.e., QUANTITY) in order to maximize their revenues. While other practices, like my practices, focus on treating each client as a unique individual with unique insights, perspectives, personality characteristics, coping skills, psychological strategies and life challenges and working individually with that client to help them become more resilient, empowered, improved, abundant, prosperous and successful in a holistic way (i.e., QUALITY).
My practice(s) focuses on the QUALITY of therapy and care that I provide instead of pushing clients through like a cattle call or a factory conveyor belt (i.e., QUANTITY). While it is necessary to have health insurance in this day and age to at least cover urgent care visits, primary care visits, specialist appointments, emergencies, hospitalizations and surgeries, your insurance company, depending on your policy, likely is not focused on providing you with the highest level of quality mental health care. In particular, due to the newness of addressing mental health care, the focus is often on quantity instead of quality.
If you want the highest level of quality mental health care, with few exceptions, it’s probably going to be from a provider/professional who does not accept insurance. In the mental health field, providers/professionals who take insurance are under intense pressure (because insurance companies usually don’t compensate them for their regular and customary fee rates) to get a greater number of clients through the door each day instead of delivering the highest degree of care. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not provide the best care.
When it comes to mental health, you generally get what you pay for. In my opinion, QUALITY beats QUANTITY every single day of the weak, regardless of whether you’re talking about your friends or your mental health partner…
Question: What kinds of mental health issues, symptoms and challenges benefit from a holistic approach (An integrative, comprehensive and collective approach)? Which Medications commonly handed to patients are addictive?
Answer: Mental health issues, symptoms and challenges that really benefit from a holistic approach (An integrative, comprehensive and collective approach) include issues like insomnia (trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep), depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, grief/bereavement, and panic symptoms. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, I strongly recommend that anyone suffering from any of these issues try a holistic approach (An integrative, comprehensive and collective approach) prior to just taking a medication.
Sadly, many prescribers don’t explain to their patients that it’s a lot easier getting on a medication than getting off of one. If that weren’t the case, then we wouldn’t have an opioid addiction crisis and epidemic, a benzodiazepine (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.) addiction crisis and a stimulant (Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, Focalin, Concerta, etc.) crisis in this country. Sadly, many prescribers of these medications also fail to disclose to patients the side effects associated with these medications. Many of them carry both short-term and long-term side effects and black box warnings that patients are rarely, if ever, informed about. In my practice I see clients every day who have no clue about the side effects associated with the medications that they’ve been prescribed for anxiety, panic attacks or ADHD. It truly is a travesty.
As an MD with a holistic practice, I carefully explain to my clients the common and long-term side effects of these medications so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not to try one. In my opinion, the first concept in medicine and in healthcare should be “do no harm.” That’s part of the Hippocratic oath that MD’s take. I can’t speak for others who attended and graduated from medical school, but when I did I took that oath seriously.
I think that it’s sad that the current insurance and pharmaceutical driven healthcare marketplace doesn’t feel the need to inform patients about the harms and consequences associated with some prescription medications. Sadly, in many cases, the same system that turns a patient into an addict then victimizes the patient again by branding them as an “addict” and refusing to treat them. It truly is an epidemic, and the cause is the concept of turning every person into a patient, turning every patient into prescription user and then not considering the long-term consequences of how that will negatively impact the person and society in general.
I often ask this question: “How can you just hand a patient prescription after prescription, knowing that it’s addictive, and then not consider the consequences of making that person an addict?” It truly is a travesty, an ethical dilemma, a miscarriage of healthcare and justice, and a ticking time bomb.