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Behavioral Health

  Psychologist offering a tissue Free Photo

Behavioral Health Department

Mental health is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From the perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

Our Program

Brownsville Community Health Center was one of five grantee organizations who were funded to adopt the collaborative care model, an integrated health care approach in which primary care and behavioral health providers partner to manage the treatment of behavioral health problems in the primary care and to address barriers to implementation that they encounter.

At BCHC, we have two care managers that help with the treatment of mild to moderate depression and mild to moderate anxiety. The care managers evaluate your level of depression and anxiety and offer some type of behavioral activation or problem solving counseling that focuses on the behavior or symptoms that may contribute to maintaining your state.

The BCHC Behavioral Health Department sees adult patients with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety who are identified by their doctor and referred to a clinical care manager. BCHC also has a pediatric counselor that sees referrals from our pediatricians for issues such as bullying, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, adjustment disorders, or behavior modifications. Because the care managers work closely with your physician, it is extremely important for you to see your doctor first so that we can keep him or her informed of your progress and be aware of any medical conditions that may also be affecting your mood.

During your appointments, the clinical care manager will evaluate the severity of your anxiety or depression using various questionnaires and staff your condition by telephone with a consulting psychiatrist. Depending on your symptoms and the severity, the psychiatrist may recommend some type of medication, which will be prescribed by your doctor.

In addition to evaluating your condition, the clinical care managers will provide free behavioral counseling and/or problem solving counseling during your 6-8 appointments.

This counseling focuses on a) helping you manage your symptoms, b) returning the patient to pleasurable activities and routines, and c) addressing any situations or events that may continue to cause or increase your symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

NOTE: Unfortunately, BCHC is only able to treat patients with mild to moderate forms of depression and/or anxiety. There is no psychiatrist or psychologist on staff, and more severe or chronic conditions such as substance abuse disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or any other conditions requiring more in depth treatment or evaluation must be referred out.

DEPRESSION

Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It is more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • Sadness

  • Loss of Interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy

  • Change in weight

  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping

  • Energy loss

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression, even the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder. As with many illnesses, the earlier the treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.

The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications as well as some medical conditions such as viral infection, thyroid disorder or others can cause the same symptoms of depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done by the physician or by referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors.

Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated with a number of methods. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.

ANXIETY

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life.

An anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feeling of panic, fear, and uneasiness

  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts

  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences

  • Nightmares

  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet

  • Shortness of breath, Palpitations, Dizziness

  • An inability to be still and calm

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

  • Nausea, muscle tension

Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:

  • Medications

  • Psychotherapy

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • Dietary and lifestyle changes

  • Relaxation therapy

Talk to your doctor if you think you have some symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Ask for help.

 

Brownsville Community
Health Center