Behavioral Health Questions Answered on Ask the Expert

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Intermountain Healthcare and KUTV Channel 2 helped answered questions about mental health during March’s Ask the Expert program. Intermountain caregivers and community partners answered questions during the monthly program on a variety of needs and concerns.

Social Media and Teens

Kids, and adults, are submersed in numerous technology. It’s become a way for teenagers to interact with each through social media.

“Even when our children live in a world in which social media is bombarding them all the time, and that’s not going to change, we need to learn how to set some appropriate limits,” said Annie Deming, PhD, psychologist from Intermountain Primary Children Hospital.

Social media has an effect on well-being, especially if it eliminates the need for in-person connections.

“Social media can affect self-esteem and one of the other problems is it actually isolates them from their peer group. Even though they are relating to their peer group online, it’s not face to face interactions.  That’s what we really need for mental health,” said Dr. Deming.

“We should model limits as parents too. Still having friends over. Going out and seeing people face to face. That’s much important than just being on a screen all the time,” Dr. Deming added.

Primary care physicians and mental health

The first place that can help with mental health is the same person you would visit for physical health – your family doctor. Intermountain providers treat the whole person and that includes body and mind.

“Mental health integration is a program we have at Intermountain where we embed psychiatrists and psychologists and care managers into their primary care clinics so we can support the patient in managing those mental health concerns,” said Dr. Travis Mickelson, family psychiatrist at Intermountain Salt Lake Clinic.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have – they can be a great resource.

Suicide Prevention and Reducing Access to Means

“If you have someone who is living with a mental health condition and is also going through a painful life experience – we look at how we make our home safer,” said Kim Myers, suicide prevention coordinator for Utah Department of Human Services.

This includes limiting access to firearms while getting critical help for the person. Myers said to think lock, limit, and remove in regards to lethal means.

“Lock firearms up and away from the person who is struggling. Limit access to those and if possible off-site storage for a temporary amount of time while the crisis sort of peaks,” Myers said.

It’s not just firearms but medication as well – lock, limit and remove the prescription until help has been given for the person.

If you or a loved one has had suicidal feelings, please contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline help that is available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255).