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Mental Health is too precious to be treated by algorithms

The demand for mental health services in Denver is outpacing the supply, so we’ve been interviewing candidates to add more capacity to the Axis Integrated Mental Health team. Finding the right person isn’t easy as we want to find people who share our commitment to wellness. We want providers that know wellness comes from more than just prescribing meds and sending patients off comfortably numb.

Many of the candidates come to us from large, corporate conglomerates of mental health clinics. Basically, what happens is that a larger company will buy up smaller practices and apply industrialization processes to maximize the profitability of the clinic – and not the wellness of the client. This is great for shareholders and investors, but not great for people.

And this matters. Not just because I want to see people get well, but also, because I want to see providers feel as though they made a difference in people’s lives. Most mental health professionals get into the business out of a genuine desire to help. What they find when they go to these corporate-owned practices is that they are expected, as one interviewee stated, to manage complicated mental health conditions in 15-20 minutes, and prescribe medications based on very narrow guidelines determined by an algorithm, again, courtesy of the corporate office.

Mental health is so much more than medications

From experience, I can tell you that there’s more to mental wellness than meds. I got into this business because my wife and I had trouble finding appropriate support for one of our children who was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. While she was prescribed the standard litany of meds for the conditions, it was still a struggle. We found that adding therapy helped. Exercise helped. But a surprising add-on to her treatment plan really showed amazing results.

Because our teenager is currently studying abroad, she’s not been able to see her normal providers and it’s challenging to get mental health meds increased in the country where she’s living. Her practitioner at our clinic reintroduced the idea of vitamins. Specifically, magnesium, Omega 3’s, vitamin D and some B12s. We had tried to get her to take these before but, being a teenager, she was super skeptical about taking them. It wasn’t until she had no other option that she began the vitamin regimen, and to her surprise, she had fewer panic attacks and was able to focus more in school. When she came home for spring break, she didn’t ask for more meds. She asked to restock her supply of gummy vitamins (she takes Smarty Pants for women, which we are not getting paid to say, but she likes them better than the ones she has in Europe) and magnesium so she won’t run out for the rest of her program year.

Ultimately, mental health isn’t just an algorithm that can be dictated by a computer model. Because people are so unique, practitioners need to take the time to get to know their patients and meet them where they are. That’s difficult when you only get 15-20 minutes per appointment. And also, when life’s circumstances can also change what works for individuals. Consider that when choosing your mental health provider.

Axis Integrated Mental Health provide a minimum of 30 minutes per visit because we believe that it takes time to get to know our clients and more than meds to feel well. And we offer adjunct services in-house like therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and Ketamine infusions in addition to our integrative psychiatry practice to make it easier to get the care you need.

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