Every year leading up to Father’s Day is Men’s Health Week and it’s a great time to remind men of the importance of their health.
Remember, as the conversation about men’s health begins, it doesn’t end with just physical health related to heart health, screening for colon cancer, prostate exams, nutrition, smoking cessation and exercise. Behavioral health also needs addressing.
One in four men is affected by some type of mental illness in their lifetime. In their 30s and 40s, men are at greater risk for disorders such as major depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder.
The integration of behavioral health care and physical health care is well under way in central Arizona. Magellan Health Services is on the cutting edge of integrating behavioral and physical health care and operates six clinics with fully integrated physical and behavioral health care.
For those men who visit an Integrated Health Home (IHH), their physical and behavioral health care will already be integrated. If not, how can you start the conversation with your primary care physician (PCP) about your behavioral health? Where can you get more information about behavioral health conditions and treatment?
If you’re not sure if your symptoms are really a behavioral health condition, there are several easy to use screening tools available at http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/screening-tools.
On the website, you will find screenings for depression (called PHQ-9), anxiety (named GAD-7), bipolar disorder (the mood disorder questionnaire) and substance-use disorders (called CAGE). You can complete the assessments on your own time and discuss the results with your PCP at your office visit.
Men, please resolve to get in with your primary doctor at least once in 2013! It’s a fact that men don’t see a PCP as often as they should. In Arizona last year, men were only half as likely to have visited a PCP as compared with women. And, when you go, talk to your doctor about your behavioral health concerns.
Behavioral health conditions can cause significant relationship issues, interfere with work and hinder social opportunities — all of which can worsen depression and anxiety. The good news is that these behavioral health conditions are treatable.
Treatment for depression and anxiety disorders can include counseling or “talk therapy,” or medications, alone or in combination. Any of these treatments can provide relief from the devastating effects of behavioral health conditions. If you do opt to take prescription medications, please remember to follow the prescription instructions exactly. Like playing golf, if you don’t execute all the components that make up a golf swing, the result is never pleasing and you deal with bunkers, hazards and bogeys.
Medications may have side effects that can be inconvenient such as loss of libido or sexual desire when taking antidepressants. These side effects should go away after a while. Talking with your doctor regularly will help him/her help you navigate past these “hazards” and get yourself safely to a state of mental well being.
If you want to read more about the signs and symptoms of behavioral health conditions or for additional resources, visit www.MagellanofAZ.com, or www.oneinfour.info.
Please have a wonderful Father’s Day.
Dr. Shareh Ghani is chief medical officer for Magellan Health Services of Arizona, manager of Central Arizona’s (Maricopa County and parts of Pinal County) Regional Behavioral Health Authority since 2007