Providence’s Well Being Trust is encouraging individuals to have anxiety and depression check-ups during their next annual exam and supporting patients in asking their providers for mental health check-ups. The organization is sharing benefits of getting a check-up, how patients can be proactive in asking for a check-up and preparing patients for what to expect if providers offer one. The effort stems from record-level anxiety and depression rates, increased rates of suicide, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recent recommendation for anxiety screens for everyone aged 65 and younger.
“Our physical and mental health are closely intertwined,” says Arpan Waghray, MD, CEO of Providence’s Well Being Trust. “Treating your physical health can do wonders for your mental health, and vice versa. This highlights the importance of our approach to treating mental health, and using tangible metrics to measure well-being can provide a pathway to whole person care that patients might not have had.”
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the prevalence of mental health issues, accelerated conversations to raise awareness about these issues, and increased accessibility to support and services for those affected.
The mental health crises in the U.S. continues to grow due to lack of access to meet the demand. Thousands of Americans are on waitlists for therapy, which has led to heavy reliance on emergency departments for mental health services. Mental health check-ups during an annual exam can highlight symptoms before they worsen, which leads to more proactive care.
The encouragement of these check-ups is also part of Providence’s undertaking to increase mental health access across the organization’s seven-state footprint, particularly for rural communities with a historic lack of access. Providence’s Well Being Trust recently awarded its first round of behavioral health innovation and transformation grants totaling nearly $5 million. The funds will go toward increasing access and improving the mental health and well-being of patients and there are initiatives that specifically focus on increasing depression and suicide-risk screenings.
“Increasing access to care is a sure way we can improve our collective mental health,” says Waghray. “As organizations like Providence’s Well Being Trust work to make that happen, it’s crucial we communicate to patients they can take control of their mental health with the resources available. Asking for and receiving a check-up can put the power in your hands during a time you feel powerless.”
Standardized assessments for both anxiety and depression already exist, with the PHQ-9 as the go-to for depression and GAD-7 being the same for anxiety. They are 16 questions combined and take minutes to complete. While the assessments are brief, they can highlight numerous symptoms of anxiety and depression that can hopefully be mitigated through early intervention.
Learn more about the benefits of getting a mental health check-up: 5 Benefits of Receiving a Mental Health Check-Up – and How You Can Ask for One – Well Being Trust.
About Providence’s Well Being Trust
Providence’s Well Being Trust is dedicated to advancing the mental health and well-being for all. Established in 2016 with a $100 million endowment from Providence St. Joseph Health, the organization’s work during its first five years helped to shape vital public policy changes, cultivate innovative community and organizational practice changes, and bring new philanthropic investment to fill gaps in the field.
In August 2022, Providence’s Well Being Trust pivoted to provide strategic direction and grants to drive impact within the Providence footprint, while also maintaining strategic national partnerships.