Assessment Process Prioritizes Mental Health as Part of Overall Health
by Maryanne Matthews
A new mental health assessment process at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is improving mental health care for all inpatients outside of Mental Health units.
“Everyone has mental health, not just patients in our mental health units,” said Dr. Mandy McMahan, Director, Adult and Forensic Mental Health and Psychosocial Professional Practice Head. “Our strategic plan prioritizes mental health as an important aspect of overall health. Implementing this new assessment process across all inpatient units helps us provide crucial mental health care to all patients who may need it, regardless of where they are in our Hospital.”
“The assessment is completed by a nurse on all patients once admitted to the Hospital. It incorporates the Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression and Anxiety (PHQ-4), an admission screening tool to help identify patients experiencing signs of mental illness.” If a patient reaches a certain score, the nurse is prompted to notify the most responsible physician who will determine if a psychiatry referral or follow-up is required.
“Everyone experiences difficult times, especially when they are in the hospital. Building this assessment into our admission process makes it easier to determine whether or not a person is in need of mental health care and increases timely access to that care when it’s required,” said Dr. McMahan. “This tool helps to facilitate and normalize those important conversations regarding overall wellness. The purpose is not to assign a label to a patient; it’s about treating the whole person.”
The assessment tool creates a more standardized and proactive approach to helping inpatients at the hospital get the help they need for any mental health issue they are experiencing. With this process in place, more patients are getting the full spectrum of care that they need, when they need it.