May 27, 2021 shields

How The Shields Care Model Supports Mental Health

The concerns surrounding mental health have never been greater and this Mental Health Awareness Month, we showcase how we support the whole person in our integrated care model through the use of the PHQ-9 assessment.

Suffering through and receiving treatment for a chronic illness can take its toll on the body physically. It can also wreak havoc on the mental health of any patient going through their medical journey as costs rise and confusion mounts.

At Shields Health Solutions, we know how difficult it is to go through the treatment process for any of the disease states we work in – that is why we treat the patient holistically looking at all aspects of their care. The Patient Health Questionnaire that monitors depression – the PHQ-9 for short – allows pharmacists to identify individuals that are at risk for depression or psychiatric disturbance so that they can be more closely monitored when going through their treatment, especially when it involves medication that can cause depression.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, serious mental illness accounts for $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year in the U.S. Millions of people are affected by mental health and now the Covid-19 pandemic has put even more strain on all of us mentally.

The PHQ-9 is used as a way to monitor a patients’ mental health after being prescribed drugs that could cause depression. An initial assessment is given to a patient and that score is used as a baseline through their medical journey. If that score increases on future tests while on therapy, our team will reach out to the provider to inform them and provide next steps, like seeking out a mental health counselor. If the initial PHQ-9 receives a high score, counseling can be started immediately while alternate treatment options are discussed. Higher scores and clinician outreach to providers have been more prevalent recently with Covid-19, people working remotely and staying isolated at home, and loss of jobs.

Research results from APha Foundation (American Pharmacist Association Foundation) show that 80% of patients exhibited a decrease in severity of depression after assessing their condition using the patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9).Our clinical team continues to follow up with the patient at an increased cadence once they have been flagged for possible depression. Our liaisons and pharmacists ensure that the patient is getting the help they deserve while guiding them on their treatment plan.

Monitoring each other’s mental health – and our own – is important so that everyone can receive the best care possible. No one should be alone in their experience which is why Shields provides the necessary tools to educate and inform patients and providers.