Tamar Rodney, PhD, PMHNP-BC: Physical and Mental Health Should Be Addressed Equally

"Let's check your blood pressure, your weight, your height ... and your emotional health ..." Finally, issues around mental health are getting more and much needed attention.

To treat patients holistically, general practitioners need to make mental health issues as big a priority as physical issues by asking questions, checking in, and making referrals as necessary.

Tamar Rodney, PhD, PMHNP-BC, CNE is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research and clinical work focus primarily on improving PTSD diagnosis and treatment.

For information about treatments for PTSD please visit The Treatment Hub.

Mental health issues are on the forefront, and it is a sad event for anyone to go through, but how great it is that we are shining a light on something that’s previously thought of negative and bad and the huge stigma related to individuals who have mental health symptoms. So, we need to talk about it more, which is exactly what we’re doing. So, that’s wonderful.

But I do think we need to go a step further. My eventual dream and goal in life is that we see mental health not as mental health but as a part of health. And so, ideally, we should be looking at an individual as a whole human being. It should be standard clinical practice that I take your blood pressure and your weight, and I also ask you about your emotional feelings and symptoms as well.

So, we have structured our healthcare system to be in little pieces and with unique individuals providing unique care. But we do have a nice way of entry, and that’s your primary care provider. And I do think some of the responsibility falls on our primary care provider to at minimum ask those initial questions and make a referral if needed but start that conversation. It is one of the most powerful things to do to simply ask how one individual is doing in addition to how is your weight, blood pressure, and height.

And so that gets that conversation started to get them the help they need. We don’t necessarily need to be experts in everything, but we know how to point individuals in the right direction. And I think that is the power of engaging in care but also the responsibility of healthcare providers to start asking the questions to see the individual as a whole human being and making the referrals as needed.

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Posted on BrainLine November 23, 2021. Reviewed November 23, 2021.