Behavioral health isn’t just about treating mental illness. Behavioral health – as opposed to mental health – describes the connection between a person’s behaviors and the health and well-being of their body, mind and spirit. It includes how behaviors like eating habits, drinking or exercising impact physical and mental health. At Community Health Partners, we recognize that these behaviors are just as important to Montanan’s overall health as their wellness checks and perscriptions.
That’s why CHP looks at behavioral health a little differently than other healthcare providers, offering integrated care that considers this important relationship between body and mind. CHP’s new Behavioral Health Director Ellie Sedor offers some insight into how CHP is prioritizing behavioral health in all aspects of care.
Last year, CHP introduced behavioral health consultants on the medical floors of the Bozeman and Belgrade clinics to work with medical teams to provide integrated care that considers both body and mind. Behavioral health consultants are trained professionals who are available to help patients with a variety of issues, bringing another level of depth to the wrap-around care offered at CHP.
"Mind and body are interconnected, and it's great to work for an organization where that’s well recognized," Sedor said.
Behavioral health consultants can offer their helpful expertise in many situations. For example, many patients’ medical plans require lifestyle changes. When a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, they may need to change their diet or their exercise routine. A behavioral health consultant can work directly with that patient to create an action plan to implement changes and begin the path toward better health.
Maybe a patient is struggling with the physical effects of smoking or alcohol consumption. Behavioral health consultants can offer techniques to kick negative habits for good.
In some cases, a patient might suggest to a provider that they’re experiencing suicidal ideation or symptoms of a mental disorder. At CHP, that provider can easily call in a behavioral health consultant to help the person resolve the crisis in that moment, find appropriate ongoing support, or both.
In other cases, patients may be struggling with an issue that’s difficult to define that affects both body and mind. Behavioral Health therapists and consultants can help with these complicated issues, and work together with clients to find the right diagnoses, treatment, and outcome for each individual person.
“No matter where people are, there’s always hope to feel more fulfilled and satisfied with their lives,“ Sedor said. “It's an honor to be a part of that at CHP."
CHP is also highly focused on supporting its therapists so that they can stay healthy while helping others – especially during a time when the demand for therapists is so high.
"I love the quote, 'People’s needs are met by people whose needs are met.'" said Sedor. "I like working on systems that set people up for success in their jobs. When they have a supportive system, it results in better outcomes for clients. Therapists’ lives matter too, and it’s hard to be a therapist right now."
Burnout can be common among therapists, especially when short staffing means that they can be easily overworked as they strive to care for more and more patients. Even before the pandemic, there was a national therapist shortage. But with rising mental health concerns surrounding COVID-19, the situation has only become more challenging. CHP aims to provide that support for behavioral health therapists, and all medical providers, working in its clinics.
Looking ahead to the future, CHP’s behavioral health director knows there’s more work to be done in our communities.
"There's definitely a need for more help with behavioral health issues in southwest Montana,” Sedor said. “So, our hope is to grow and serve more people in the future."
CHP aims to provide the best medical care possible, at an affordable price for all. By incorporating behavioral health therapy into routine medical practices, it’s possible to improve care and work smarter towards wellness. To make an appointment and find out how behavioral health therapy can help with your diagnosis or condition, reach out to the Bozeman or Belgrade clinic for an appointment.