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The mind and body connection

Behavioral health team provides support for patients’ mental health

When Behavioral Health Therapist, Kevin Heeb, PLMHP, met with a teen struggling to fall asleep at night due to being afraid she would not wake up, he suggested she start writing down her worries before going to bed. Six weeks later, the teen was able to go to sleep without any problems and identified that she was experiencing panic attacks.

“A lot of her stress was from overthinking things and focusing on negatives,” said Heeb. “By encouraging her to write her worries down, she could figure out if something was actionable during that journaling time, and if it wasn’t she could let it go then and there. This helped to shift her mind away from the ‘what ifs’ and allowed her to start focusing on the positive items. She’s doing really well now.”

Prioritizing the medical and mental health of each patient ensures all elements of care are addressed. At OneWorld, clinicians use an integrated model of health care to provide whole person care. During medical appointments, clinicians can refer patients to see a behavioral health therapist during their appointment.

“By working together we are able to help each patient be the best versions of themselves,” said Heeb.

Heeb said offering therapy in the clinic setting is an important tool, especially for teenagers who have to balance physiological changes and extreme social pressure all at once. The Teen and Young Adult Health Centers serve as a safe space where young adults can ask for help.

Clinic staff perform anxiety and depression screenings for each patient to gain an understanding of where each patient is at mentally and guide the clinicians on how to best help each patient.

“You never know what someone is going through, which is why therapy is an important tool because it focuses on listening and not assuming anything about someone’s situation,” said Heeb. “We’re here to help every teen that walks through our doors with whatever they need, and we are happy to be that trusted resource.”

At the OneWorld Women’s Health Clinic, Karla Deacon, PLMHP, Behavioral Health Therapist, meets with prenatal patients during the first few prenatal care appointments.

Deacon said about half of the patients she works with have not been pregnant before, so she focuses her time on educating patients on what is normal and abnormal when looking at mental health during pregnancy.

If there are concerns about anxiety or depression, Deacon arranges follow up appointments. Deacon connects patients in need of regular, long-term therapy to community partners.

“I help them learn that feeling tired and emotional is okay and normal, but also emphasize that if they are feeling like that every day to the point that they cannot function, that is no longer normal and that we can help.”

Deacon initially came to OneWorld in 2019 as an intern while earning her provisional license to be a substance abuse counselor. When she returned to OneWorld in 2022, she noticed a sharp increase in patients, especially for patients struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“I’m so glad mental health is getting more of a spotlight nationwide, and that at OneWorld we automatically associate mental health with physical health,” said Deacon. “We are here to help our community, across all stages of life because the body and mind connection is so important.”

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