Mental health and physical health can be related and can be treated together rather than one or the other


JOPLIN, MO – Treating mental health and physical health together is an approach to helping the body as a whole.

Many health professionals feel the two relate, and you can’t treat one without the other.

“I would say physical health and mental health equally impact each other,” says Karen VanDiver, RN, Ozark Center Healthcare Home Director.

A simple trip to the gym could be helping even more than you think.

“We used to teach people, you’re sick, let me take care of you. Now we teach people, you’re sick, let me teach you how to take care of yourself,” says VanDiver.

VanDiver with Freeman Health Ozark Center’s Healthcare home points out just how much a physical illness can affect a mental illness and vice versa.

“When one disease process is not in control and not managed, then all of the other systems in your body threaten to become ill as well,” she says.

For example, think about someone who might be having a hard time with depression getting diagnosed with another physical illness.

“Perhaps another disease process that you have, such as maybe diabetes, it is also potentially going to be affected, because you may not be paying attention to your nutrition.”

Healthcare Home is a support service that helps patients with chronic mental health conditions manage the link between mental and physical health.

“It’s super individualized. An individual may say, ‘Gosh I don’t breathe well. I’d like to move more.’ And so, we’ll work on what that might look like for that individual,” says VanDiver.

Roughly 519 clients are in the program and it’s growing.

“We aren’t designed to do direct care. We are designed to be a coordinator of care for our providers that are already doing fine direct care for our clients.”

Thankfully, Healthcare Home nurses can help get patients on the right track to treat the body as a whole, not just training physical or mental health alone.

“An essential part of being well is not only having part of your psychiatric care identified with a provider that you trust, but also having a primary care physician that that provider can work with and that individual can depend on.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

We also have more resources, including this Healthcare Home program link.

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