Medical Assistants Must Address Mental Health

As a medical assistant, you’re probably aware of how important it is to provide quality health care while curbing high costs in the health care system. In many states, a small percentage of patients rack up an inordinate share of medical expenses – many of which are preventable. Many of them have a mental illness, and most mental illnesses are untreated.

Health officials in Colorado believes it’s impossible to treat the “most expensive” emergency room customers mentioned above without addressing mental health. It makes sense, and research confirms that a troubled mind can take a toll on the body, and vice versa. By paying attention to the mind and its effects on the body, many trips to the emergency room can be avoided with preventative care.

In 2013, medical expenses related to mental illness reached an estimated $2 billion in Colorado. Lost wages contributed to more of a financial hit – workers with mental disorders earn $16,000 less than their mentally stable peers. This, in conjunction with disability payments and treating prison inmates with mental disorders contributes to even more lost money by the state.

Doctors and medical assistants alike agree that this money would be better spent on the front end – including screening for depression in doctor’s offices and treating people for mental and physical health problems in the same place. By treating the whole person, inside and out, doctors and medical assistants hope to create healthier, happier patients who spend less time in the emergency room due to preventative care.