Comment: Where to start when you need mental health care

The best place to start is with your primary care provider, who can refer you to the proper next steps.

By Mia Wise / For The Herald

We need to do more to address the mental health crisis we’re facing.

In 2022, more than 19 percent of adults experienced a mental illness, according to Mental Health America. This is the equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans. Unfortunately, almost a quarter of all adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. This number has not declined since 2011.

We need to break down barriers to seeking care and normalize that it is OK not to be OK. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it is critical to seek care for your mental health.

But knowing where to start can seem daunting. What’s the right level or type of care? Talking with your primary care provider is often the best place to start with your mental health as well.

Physical health conditions, particularly with chronic illness, can cause or exacerbate mental health symptoms. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes are 20 percent more likely than those without diabetes to have anxiety at some point in their life.

Your trusted primary care provider knows your history, health and can help guide your best treatment plan. Medication, talk therapy or a combination of both might be appropriate depending on the condition. Many primary care providers are experienced in treating mild to moderate mental health conditions and can offer guidance if you need to seek additional care.

This is why we have adopted a whole-health approach at Kinwell Medical Group. Our clinics, which include ones in Snohomish County, provide primary care and behavioral health services. During a routine primary care visit, if the patient presents signs of mental distress or expresses concerns over their mental health, the primary care physician can coordinate an initial consultation with a behavioral health specialist on that same visit.

Another barrier to care for many people is the difficulty attending in-person appointments. For some, transportation can be an issue, finding a provider in their area can be a challenge or they feel more comfortable talking to someone in a familiar space. People living in rural areas often face a shortage of providers, particularly those specializing in behavioral health care. This can lead to long waitlists or trouble finding a provider who matches a person’s preferences.

There are several virtual care, or telehealth, options available, which offer broader access to care. These include video, phone, and text-based apps that connect people with doctors or therapists. To remove barriers around in-person care, many clinics offers virtual care to patients wherever they are located in Washington. The most important step you will take in your mental wellness journey is the first one. Remember that it can take some time to feel better. The process is different for everyone, and having a trusted provider who understands you and your health is invaluable.

Dr. Mia Wise is president and chief medical officer for the Kinwell Medical Group, with clinics in Lynnwood and Mill Creek and throughout Washington state.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, July 19

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Wagoner and Low to 39th Disrict seats

‘Workhorse’ Republicans, both have sponsored successful solution-oriented legislation in each chamber.

Schwab: Attempt on Trump’s life doesn’t require giving up

Those opposed to a second Trump term still are allowed to speak their minds and cast their votes.

Vote for more of Port of Everett’s projects by voting for Prop. 1

Letters and editorials are flying, both pro and con, on Proposition 1:… Continue reading

We need answers to questions about Alderwood mall shooting

I was deeply saddened reading the article about the memorial service for… Continue reading

Protect The Herald’s content and customer service

It’s maddening to hear about layoffs at The Daily Herald. I’m so… Continue reading

A law enforcement officer surveys the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, the site of the Republican National Convention, on July 14, 2024. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
Editorial: Weekend’s violence should steel resolve in democracy

Leaders can lower the temperature of their rhetoric. We can choose elections over violence.

A graphic show the Port of Everett boundary expansion proposed in a ballot measure to voters in the Aug. 6 primary election. (Port of Everett).
Editorial: Case made to expand Port of Everett across county

The port’s humming economic engine should be unleashed to bring jobs, opportunity to all communities.

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Peterson, Ortiz-Self to House seats

The 21st district Democrats, each seeking a sixth term, are practiced and effective lawmakers.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, July 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Kristof: Democrats musk ask if loyalty lies with Biden or goals

Odds are that Biden will lose and take Democrats down with him. That can only dishonor his legacy.

Repeal of Climate Commitment Act would stop local projects

A really great article by Ta’Leah Van Sistine in a recent issue… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.