Redefining the “Mental Health Day”: A Synergistic Approach to Mental Health Issues. By Michael Barness, M.D.


I. The Basis for a Synergistic Approach:

As a Psychiatrist I often encounter patients searching for the “magic pill” to cure their mental health issues. Often times, however, the standard treatment for a common mental illness is simply not enough. This is due to a variety of other factors that need to be simultaneously addressed in order to facilitate proper treatment. To explain this better to my patients, I generally draw a pie graph to illustrate how medication is just one piece. I exemplify how other lifestyle considerations, such as diet and exercise and abstinence from tobacco, drugs, and heavy alcohol use are imperative factors. I explain how proper management of medical conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, has been shown to improve mood and overall health. Thus, I propose a more synergistic approach to mental health treatment and management stemmed from the core belief that effective treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach.

II. Redefining the “Mental Health Day”:

I envision a facility that can provide treatment of psychiatric conditions from a more comprehensive perspective. A one-stop-shop, if you will, where one can take a true “mental health day.” This facility would embrace a multidisciplinary philosophy to address an individual’s mental health needs. Offered in a welcoming and calming space that provides the following high-end services all under one roof:
<ul>
<li>Mental Health Services. Members would have access to psychiatric evaluations with medication management as well as individual, family, and couples psychotherapy. Techniques such as hypnosis would be available for suitable candidates. In addition and when applicable, group therapies, and support groups would be available.</li>
<li>Medical Services. Access to a primary care provider to manage co-occurring medical conditions. Also chiropractic, osteopathic, and acupuncture treatments would be available.</li>
<li>Nutrition & Dietary Services. Members would have access to evaluations and assessments by nutritionists and dieticians. This service would allow any individual to formulate a diet plan that can fit into their lifestyle.</li>
<li>Yoga and Pilates Services. Members would have access to yoga, meditation, and Pilates with an intense focus on relaxation and stress relief.</li>
<li>Serenity Room. A quiet room with massage chairs, running water, and soothing music. A place where people can relax their minds and unwind while drinking healthy protein shakes and herbal teas. A true oasis where negative energy is never allowed in.</li>
<li>Live Lectures & Educational Seminars. Led by leading thought leaders within the mental health industry, programs would be available to all members to educate themselves on continuous ways to improve mental and physical health.</li>
</ul>

Memberships allow an individual to choose ‘a la cart’ or package options for maximum treatment. For example, one individual may require medication management or see a primary care provider. Another may only be interested in certain group therapies and yoga. Each service entity functions independently or as referral network for another entity within the facility. The underlying philosophical goal is integration of as many treatment modalities as possible until clinically significant improvement is seen. This also allows individuals to try different modalities at their own pace while still learning the benefits of utilizing a wider ranged and diverse approach to mental health care.

III. Conclusion:

The etiology of most mental illnesses is multifactorial and accordingly, so should the treatment of mental illnesses as well. Although my proposed idea is still in its infancy, I have utilized this multidisciplinary approach to the extent possible in multiple treatment settings and have seen real improvements. Many individuals are searching for new and alternative concepts and treatment methods for their psychiatric needs. This facility would bring a fresh new treatment model to an already growing and expanding field. I plan to build a brand that can change the culture of how psychiatric care is delivered. Skeptics of this approach may argue that this is a very time consuming and difficult method of improving mental health. This may be true, but it is still easier than trying to find the “magic pill.”