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Mental Health: When and How to Seek Help

Amber Brackett shares insight on when and how to seek mental health.
Mental Health: When and How to Seek Help
Amber Brackett
Amber Brackett is the Manager of Behavioral Evaluation Services Team for St. Joseph's Behavioral Health Center.

Introduction: This is Hello Healthy, a Dignity Health Podcast. Here's Bill Klaproth.

Bill Klaproth: If you're suffering from a mental health issue, you may feel alone or even embarrassed, but there is help and there is hope. So let's get you that help and learn more about when and how to seek help with Amber Brackett, Manager of the Behavioral Evaluation services team for St. Joseph's Behavioral Health Center. Amber, thank you so much for your time. So what is the main mental health problem that you treat?

Amber Brackett: Well, it's, it's kind of difficult to say we have all different levels of care and it depends on what level is needed. We treat patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Host: Well, what are the symptoms of a mental health problem? What would be the signs that someone may be suffering from this?

Amber Brackett: Yeah, that varies also for each individual. I think the most common things we see is sleep disturbance. Rather it's too much sleep or not enough sleep, appetite has changed, their increased eating or they're not eating at all. I would say those are the kind of the main things or loss of interest in normal daily activities.

Host: Okay. So that's really good to know. Sleep disturbance, appetite changes or loss of interest in daily activities. And then who is at risk for a mental health problem?

Amber Brackett: Well, generally we find that there is some type of history of family that have had some type of mental illness, whether it be anxiety or just depression. And if not, it could be just a life stressor. You know, people have different stressors in their life and if they don't take care of their self physically as well as mentally they become ill. So financial problems, divorced or even a death of a loved one could cause mental illness.

Host: So at what point should someone seek a behavioral evaluation?

Amber Brackett: I think when they start to recognize that they aren't fulfilling their normal routine, their duties, oftentimes it affects work. People are missing work or they're increased in tardies and calling in sick, or not even able to take care of their normal duties at their job. Also, it could be something as simple as caring for your family or cleaning your house.

Host: Okay. So that's good to know. So when it starts to affect your daily routine, as you said, such as missing work or not even cleaning your house or other daily duties just aren't getting done. So if someone does realize that or a loved one recognizes that in another person and is worried about that person, how do they come to get this behavioral evaluation? Do they need to get a referral in order to come and get a behavioral evaluation?

Amber Brackett: No, actually our behavioral evaluations are free to the public. This is a community benefit that we do because we want to promote health and it generally is just a, you know, calling in and an appointment and it could be an outpatient setting or even at the hospital, depending on to what degree your symptoms are. And if you just call on the phone going over the symptoms, somebody can direct you to come in.

Host: So the evaluation is free. And Amber, what is that phone number if somebody wants to schedule an evaluation?

Amber Brackett: (209) 461-2000.

Host: Okay, so (209) 461-2000 and then what happens during the evaluation?

Amber Brackett: Well, you come in and have a seat with an evaluator. They will take some time with you and ask you a lot of questions about your history. What are your current symptoms? Oftentimes it's helpful to get family member even to come with you if you feel more comfortable or if you're worried or concerned to have that support and we welcome that, they can oftentimes give us a different insight also into what's maybe happening with you that maybe you don't even recognize.

Host: So then after you thoroughly evaluate a person, what is the next step? What happens after the evaluation?

Amber Brackett: Well, we talked to you about what level of care would be recommended for your symptoms and what's happening. It could be anywhere from an outpatient setting with a therapist on an individual basis to a program that is, it's called IOP, which is intensive outpatient. We also have a partial program where you would be here about six hours a day. And then we also have inpatient hospitalization if the symptoms are really severe.

Host: And as we wrap up, what else should we know about the behavioral evaluation services at St. Joseph's Behavioral Health Center?

Amber Brackett: When things are really serious and patients end up going to the emergency room, for example, they are called 911 or family members have taken them there. We also go to our emergency rooms within this County and see patients to see if there's anything we can do to assist them in getting the emotional health that they need.

Host: You know, I think it's really good that we're talking about this today. Many people may not know about this free behavioral evaluation. So if someone is experiencing the signs and symptoms that you talked about, sleep disturbance, appetite change, loss of interest, changes in their daily routine, like not cleaning the house, missing work, things like that. I think the bottom line here is pick up the phone and make that call. (209) 461-2000 is that right?

Amber Brackett: Yes. And then just talk to somebody, you know, ask them the questions. You're on the phone, you should feel safe in doing so, and we will do our best to answer them or at least direct you in the right direction so that you can get the help you need.

Host: Well, Amber, this has really been informative and what a great service to offer to our community. Remember (209) 461-2000. Amber, we really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.

Amber Brackett: Thank you.

Host: That's Amber Brackett. And for more information, please, that's You can also call (209) 461-2000. And if you like what you've heard in this podcast, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check out the full podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Hello Healthy, a Dignity Health Podcast. I'm Bill Klaproth, thanks for listening.