Family doctors remind people that #MentalHealthMatters

(BPT) – Mental health and emotional wellness affect every aspect of a person’s life, from work to family to leisure. One in five adults lives with mental illness, which can range from mild to severe. Many times, before mental illness is diagnosed, it can trigger physical symptoms.

Take, for example, 26-year-old Michael who suffered a construction work injury that started him on a vicious cycle of pain and feeling helpless. After being treated for the pain, he noticed red, flaky sores on his skin. His family doctor diagnosed him with depression-related psoriasis and together they worked out a treatment plan.

Then there’s Jennifer, a 35-year-old hair stylist, who showed the textbook signs of a heart attack: She couldn’t catch her breath, was sweating, and had a rapid heartbeat and nausea. After multiple tests in the ER costing thousands of dollars, she was diagnosed with acute anxiety. Her prescription? See her family doctor and determine the right course of treatment for her situation — both physical and emotional.

This mind/body connection is very real, complicated and many times, not well understood. That’s one reason why it’s important to have a family doctor who knows the patient and their family in the context of their community. Family doctors are on the front lines of diagnosing and treating mental health concerns. In fact, primary care physicians provide the majority of U.S. mental health services.

Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time for people to consider the state of their mental health and that of their loved ones and friends. Family doctors from all over the U.S. and the American Academy of Family Physicians are calling on people to do just that.

Join the movement. Go to to learn:

* When and how to talk to your family doctor about mental health

* What your doctor can do for you

* How to prepare for an appointment and questions to ask your doctor

Download a guide to help start the conversation, including taking note of

* Physical, emotional or behavioral symptoms

* Any recent life changes

* Medications you are taking

Help start the conversation on talking to your family doctor about mental health and well-being online. Tell others about the resources on your social media channels using the hashtag #MentalHealthMatters. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your family doctor is a good place to start.