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Depression Screening and Treatment with Bay Area Community Health

Blog contribution by Bay Area Community Health

Mental health illness has been an increasing problem within our society. It is estimated that one in five, more than 50 million people, are suffering from some degree of mental health issue in the U.S. alone. One of the main obstacles faced in treating mental health is that it is often overlooked due to the fact that there are many symptoms that have become seen as common, such as trouble sleeping, eating too much or too little, and back and neck pain. We often see these as the normal effects of a busy or stressful life, which can lead to the oversight of the fact that they are also signs of depression.

Bay Area Community Health (BACH) takes the mental wellness of our community members very seriously and recognizes the potential oversight in diagnosis. In order to mitigate this issue, BACH’s Behavioral Health Department utilizes the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) which is a screening designed as a first step approach to detect signs of depression. The questionnaire inquires about the frequency of depression symptoms over the past two weeks and then assigns a number on a scale to determine severity. Once taken, if the patient has a score of 2 or higher on the PHQ-2, they will be prompted to take the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) which is a multipurpose instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring, and measuring the severity of depression. If the patient receives a score of 5 or higher on the PHQ-9, they will be referred to the behavioral health team for further diagnosis and assistance.

These two screening questionnaires serve as valuable tools for the BACH Behavioral Health Department. Most of the referrals they receive are a direct result of the use of this model. “Behavioral health screening using the PHQ-2 and PHQ-9 is integral to ensuring that BACH patients get the mental health care they need. Many patients have never been in therapy before and they talk about their mental health symptoms as somatic complaints or they don’t talk about their symptoms at all. By using brief screening tools our team members are able to better identify who could possibly benefit from seeing a mental health professional and an appropriate referral can be made to our behavioral health department.” Kevin Higgins, PsyD, BACH Behavioral Health Director.

Higgins adds, “BACH is a wonderful place to work as a mental health professional because our patients are so appreciative of the services they receive. It’s a great feeling to help someone identify new personal coping resources and to then witness a reduction in their symptomology.” BACH takes pride in offering a wide range of behavioral health services including treatment, educational programming, and counseling, and is now expanding into mobile services as well. BACH is glad to see the movement toward acceptance and treatment of mental health and will continue to grow and develop its programming to provide quality, accessible care to serve the community and their overall health and wellness needs.

Learn more about BACH HERE.