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Treating the Whole Person: A Mental Health Awareness Month Story

Healthcare providers have the opportunity to provide so much more than a positive treatment experience for their patients. As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, the following story is a patient's experience about how her healthcare practitioner saw an opportunity to help treat her as a whole person, beyond her physical symptoms.

Mental health is more than just a catch phrase. It is so important to take care of ourselves. As I reflect on my own journey of physical pain, I realize just how invested in my overall health everyone I have seen has been. From medical care to physical therapy to acupuncture, every part of the process, every interaction, every person I have encountered has seen me as more than their patient. They have truly been invested in my own health and well-being. And for that I am extremely grateful.

Bringing Mental Health into Physical Healing

The pain started after breaking my foot, shortly before getting out of a boot after eight weeks. It started as a tingling in my foot, went up my leg and into my spine and lower back. On and off sciatic twinges. If I’m honest, I went into my first doctor appointment skeptical, but optimistic.

I began a long journey, but one that provided more than just treatment of my physical pain.

Each time I would check in and visit my provider, I was greeted with encouragement. Asked how I was feeling and offering feedback based on the day’s symptoms. Shown how I could care for myself. Given an opportunity to rest and recover in the midst of the chaos of daily life. On the days when the physical pain was just too much to bear, she sat intently and listened. I was given more than just a plan for treatment. I was given hope. And a sense of calm.

I remember the day my provider said she could feel the stress I was carrying in my body. By this point in my treatment plan, she had gotten to know me pretty well. She knew that I had some stress in my life, and she genuinely cared about how I was doing.

That’s when it clicked. Visiting my doctor wasn’t just about treating my pain. It was about treating myself and how I respond to stress in my life. My chiropractor could tell that my symptoms were exacerbated by stress and was invested in treating me beyond my physical symptoms. She truly cared about my wellness – inside and out.

Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness of mental health – of those we may or may not know impacted by illness. It is also a time to consider our own health. How we respond to the daily stresses in our own lives.

How does your body respond to stress? Have you thought about how practitioners can help? Investing in self-care is critical to a greater well-being.

Investing in Patients, Treating the Whole Person

Medical professionals in any position have the opportunity to care for their patients beyond their practice. By seeing their patients on an ongoing basis, they develop a relationship that allows them to provide treatment for the whole person. And if they see that a patient may need treatment beyond what they have to offer, a referral for their well-being may just be what doctor ordered.
 

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