Mental health is health. It is the primary function of your everyday life and while the world might celebrate mental health awareness during the month of May, we practice it all year long.

Whether you’re new to understanding mental health or have been seeking assistance for years, we can help you navigate your challenges. Here to help us understand what that might look like in a primary care physician is Dr. Jenny Gerner.

may mental health awareness month

Can I see my PCP for mental health?

At Westside Family Medicine, your PCP will be a provider experienced in handling a wide variety of mental health concerns, like anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, and many other mental health concerns.  

Dr. Gerner explains that, “About a third of all our daily visits involve people with mental health issues! Accessing specialty mental health care (like a psychiatrist) who takes insurance can be challenging, and we see it as our responsibility to be able to handle most initial evaluations and management of mental health issues, and can refer you to specialty care when needed.”

What should I expect at my first appointment?

“Often mental health concerns come up at a general annual checkup. If you are due for your physical (covered once a year by most insurances), please come on in!”  

At your checkup, your provider will ask you about your past and current health issues, including your mental health, and come up with a plan to get you on the track to wellness. If you have had a physical already this year and specifically want to speak about a mental health concern, that works too!  

Just schedule a consultation, either in person or via telemed, and we will deal specifically with your mental health concerns. 

“Please note that due to new federal regulations that have just taken effect, new patients who need prescriptions for controlled substances (like many medicines for anxiety or ADD) will need to have at least one in person visit in order for those medicines to be prescribed.”

What types of mental health issues does a PCP most commonly treat?

“We see a lot of patients with anxiety, mild depression, add/adhd, and disordered eating. We also have providers who specialize in LGBTQ+ care and see a large number of patients for consultations about gender identity and gender-affirming care.”

No matter your challenges, it’s always advised to seek medical attention so you can fully understand what’s happening and the options available to you.

How do you develop a treatment plan?

“At WFM our top priority is seeing the patient as a person, and we work together with you to find a treatment plan that is best suited to your symptoms and your personal circumstances.”  

While there are certain “go-to” medications for many mental health issues, we don’t practice cookie-cutter medicine. Everyone is different, and we will work with you (and any specialists who may be participating in your care) to devise a personalized treatment plan.

This means taking into consideration any previous treatments, your daily life, and your desired outcome.

What current issues do you see that may be triggering depression, anxiety, and more?

Most mental health issues are not “triggered” by one specific thing, but occur as a result of a complex interaction between one’s body chemistry, genetic makeup, and environmental effects.  

“We look at a patient from the ‘bio-Psycho-Social’ model for any health concern, including mental health concerns. That means that we evaluate you from a biological, psychological, and social perspective before determining what is the best treatment for you.”

Dr. Gerner goes on to add, “We also have recently brought in a doctor specializing in ‘wellness medicine’. This area of medicine focuses on identifying medical concerns that can be improved through things like nutrition, diet, exercise, yoga, and mindfulness.”

Like any part of the body, the brain responds well to lifestyle modifications so we will work to integrate these modalities into your care with a holistic approach.

Any advice that applies to most people when it comes to their mental health?

“Don’t be embarrassed to seek help! We are here for you and you are most definitely not alone in what ails you.” 

It can be hard to admit that you might need help, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because our current culture is plagued with the disbelief that the mind is a part of the body and needs care just like any other part.

If you have a rash that doesn’t go away, you seek medical help. If you have mental health challenges that don’t improve on their own, you seek medical help. The only difference with these examples is that the mind and brain are the most important part of your entire being.

Take care of it with just as much, if not more, care.

If you’ve not yet discussed mental health with your PCP, it’s time to prioritize it! Schedule a consultation so we can put together a plan that helps your mind and body as a whole.