Preventative Screening

There is a debate going on as to if primary care physicians should screen for potential mental health issues during annual medical exams. As I have stated before, people are generally more willing to go see a medical doctor for their physical concerns before they will see a mental health professional for mental/emotional concerns. So does it make sense for physicians to start screening for any potential mental health concerns? Some say doctors, mental health professionals and specialists should all stay in their own field. I think differently.

When I am working with a patient, I believe in the whole person. So when they sit down to see me for the first time, I do an evaluation that is comprehensive and reviews every part of the person. I do this so that I can get a snapshot of that person’s story. Part of that evaluation does address medical issues. Because medical issues can affect mental health and vice versa, I need to know if there are any medical concerns that I should be aware of. If they are already working with their doctor on those medical needs, then sometimes I will ask for consent to speak to that doctor so that we can work as a team for that patient. However, if the patient has never addressed their medical issues with a physician, I ALWAYS recommend that they see their doctor. Since our bodies work as one system, it is very difficult to try and treat one issue if there are other issues in the body getting in the way of the person’s recovery.

Because of this, I do think that primary care physicians should screen for mental and emotional issues. This way patients can be referred to get the help that need. They may also be more willing to see a mental health professional if their doctor recommended this type of care. So what do you think? Should doctors screen for mental health disorders? I would love to know your thoughts!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015


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