VHAN Social Work Team Connects Patients to Behavioral Health Support

Facing multiple medical conditions can cause patients to experience depression, hampering their ability to manage their health. A nimble response from VHAN’s Care Management team recently made a big difference for such a patient.  

The patient, a 70-year-old male, was suffering from multiple comorbidities and experiencing associated depression and anxiety, along with what he described as a “short fuse.” While his cardiologist had prescribed an antidepressant, the patient was confused over the name of that medication and how and where to get the prescription filled.  

Practical Solutions for Depression and Anger Management 
A VHAN RN Care Navigator stepped in to offer comfort and counsel as well as to assess the patient’s complex situation. After witnessing signs of depression in the patient, the nurse made a referral to a social worker. The social worker, trained in behavioral health interventions, worked with the patient to address his psychological areas of concern. 

The social worker explored the patient’s relationship to his past psychiatric provider, and together they created a plan to resume care. A follow-up letter was sent to the patient with steps for reconnecting with a medication provider. Over several weeks the social worker offered solution-focused counseling and anger management, talking through specific situations that triggered an anger response. Part of their sessions focused on alternative coping methods and ways to address his depression. 

This kind of personal attention and behavioral health education not only help patients better understand their condition, but it also helps them cope with the stress and negative consequences of mental illness. 

Why VHAN Prioritizes Behavioral Health 
For every 10 people who visit a doctor, it’s estimated that seven are seeking care for behavioral health-related reasons, such as depression, anxiety, diabetes management, weight loss or substance abuse. Though most primary care providers (PCPs) are not qualified to diagnose issues related to behavioral health, roughly 60% of patients still rely on their PCP for such advice.  

VHAN’s collaborative care model is designed to bridge that gap, delivering the right kind of care where and when needed. In this patient’s case, the VHAN social work team created a coordinated plan for psychiatric care, anger management and medication management while providing him with enough support and encouragement to make positive changes for his mental health. 

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