Health Care Hokey Pokey--Put Your Whole Self In For a Positive Outcome

Health Care Hokey Pokey--Put Your Whole Self In For a Positive Outcome
| by Roseanne Geisel

It is a naïve thought, but I am going to share it anyway. Wouldn’t it be great if health care was not categorized as either physical health or mental health? Why isn’t it all just called health care? We have one body, in which all of the systems are connected and affect each other. As kids we danced the Hokey-Pokey at birthday parties. There is a lot to be said for putting our whole selves in when it comes to health care.

If medical issues were all just called health conditions, there would be no stigma. No one would be afraid to say they are going to a medical appointment to determine why they are feeling depressed, anxious, sudden panic with a fast heart rate or the desire to sleep most of the day. No one would hesitate to acknowledge that the doctor said their frequent headaches or pain somewhere in the body resulted from repressing a bad experience that occurred a decade ago.

Motivated to feel like ourselves again, we would all follow the suggestions of a health care provider we trust.

Here we are, Mental Health Awareness Month 2021, and we are still divided between the haves and have nots—those who have experienced a mental health condition and those who have not; those who are willing to go to a health care provider and discuss something that is considered a mental health condition and those who have not and will not.

But that may not always be the case. For example, The AIMS Center (Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions) at the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Seattle continues to research, enhance and teach implementation strategies for the collaborative care model of integrating mental health and primary care. The model was introduced in the 1990s by Wayne Katon, M.D., who examined the treatment of anxiety and depression in primary care, according to history on the AIMS Center website.

Another example is the increasingly visible functional medicine specialty which takes a system-by-system look at the effects of inflammation and imbalance in the body and their effects, including anxiety, depression, mood disorders or cognitive impairment.

Until then, we as individuals can take a unified view of our own health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lists eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial social, environmental and spiritual, acknowledging that the list may be modified or lengthened according to different cultural traditions. SAMHSA’s “Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness,” can be downloaded for free from the SAMSHA store.

We also can realize that if it is appropriate and helpful in specific situations or with certain people to discuss symptoms or conditions generally referred to as physical health, then it’s also likely to be appropriate and helpful to mention symptoms or conditions placed in the mental health category. It can be empowering and helpful to others as well as ourselves.

Who knows what strides we can make before Mental Health Month 2022?

If you need an understanding “coach” to demystify mental health care, help find the right provider and care setting for you, guide and support you as you go through treatment, and give you the information you need to make your own decisions, contact Geisel Advocacy for Patients LLC ( for help. We are listed in AdvoConnection (, and the directories of Greater National Advocates ( and the National Assn. of Healthcare Advocacy (

Call 703-534-4030 for a free 15-minute consultation to determine if GAP services match your needs.