The Mind–Body Connection

The mind–body connection is a concept that has grown in popularity. It highlights the intricate relationship of an individual’s physical health with his or her emotions and psychological state. As medicine begins to understand and accept “the mind–body connection,” there has been a greater integration of biomedicine, mental health services, and alternative or complementary therapies. This week’s resources cite multiple studies that explain the complex and multidirectional connection between physical illness and mental illness. For example, chronic physical illness may cause mental distress. On the other hand, mental illness can lead to deteriorating physical health, an acute medical crisis, or poor overall health outcomes. Given the connection between physical illness and mental illness, it is common to find health care teams that include physicians, mental health professionals, and medical social workers. The combination of these disciplines provides patients with well-rounded care that emphasizes the whole person. To prepare for this Discussion: Think about a mental illness and a physical illness that might be connected. Consider the impact of mental illness on physical illness and vice versa. By Day 3 Post an explanation of the relationship between the mental illness and the physical illness. Explain the specific course of the physical illness that might be influenced by the mental illness. Then, explain how this relationship might impact a patient’s course of life.   Discussion 2: Assessing and Intervening in Mental Illness to Control Physical Illness week2 The biopsychosocial model focuses on the interactions between the “bio,” “psycho,” and “social” aspects of an illness. To illustrate the relationship between the “bio” and “psycho,” consider diabetes and depression. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, studies show that depression and diabetes might be linked (National Institutes of Health, 2011). The everyday stress of managing diabetes may contribute to the development of depression. At the same time, depression may reduce overall physical and mental health, making diabetes symptoms worse. At all stages of illness, medical social workers must assess the presence and severity of psychiatric symptoms in the face of physical illness. In the presence of these symptoms, medical social workers need to understand the root of the symptoms. In the absence of psychiatric symptoms, medical social workers need to consider whether and to what extent patients might be susceptible to mental health issues. Completing an ongoing assessment of patients’ mental health status can inform and support medical social work interventions. To prepare for this Discussion: Think about Discussion 1 you completed this week. Consider the example of diabetes and depression. Focus on the possibility that mental illness may intensify the symptoms of physical illness, which in turn worsen mental illness, creating a vicious cycle of poor health and health outcomes. By Day 4 Post an explanation of the importance of mental health status assessment in the presence of physical illness. Explain the specific information a social worker needs to gather during this assessment. Then, describe any follow-up steps a social worker might take when a patient presents with a significant mental health issue. Describe one targeted intervention that you might use in a patient with both mental and physical illness. Finally, explain one strategy that might improve a patient’s mental illness and physical illness simultaneously. Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources and the current literature using appropriate APA format and style. Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings. By Day 6 Respond to at least two different colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways: ·       Expand on your colleague’s post by explaining any research that supports mental health status assessment by medical social workers. ·       Review a colleague’s post. Suggest additional information that needs to be gathered during assessment. Provide rationale. ·       Provide a constructive critique of the targeted interventions your colleague posted by suggesting one alternative intervention that might be more effective. ·       Offer additional strategies to improve both mental health and physical illness simultaneously.     Discussion 1: Social Factors and Health Outcomes  week3 Week 2 explored the interaction between the “bio” and “psycho” aspects of an illness. The third component of the biopsychosocial model is the focus of this week. Social factors such as socioeconomic status, educational attainment, social interactions and support, and health literacy independently influence the development and progression of illness and health outcomes. Other social determinants of health or illness are race, ethnicity, occupation, geographic location, and religion. These factors influence health through direct psychobiological processes or lifestyle modifications (Martikainen, Bartley, & Lahelma, 2002). To prepare for this Discussion: Review this week’s resources. Consider social factors known to influence health outcomes. Select two factors of interest to you. Consider both macro and micro aspects of medical social work. By Day 3 Post an explanation of how two social factors influence health outcomes. Describe medical social work interventions that target these factors to improve health outcomes, and explain why you selected these interventions. Explain the tasks a social worker might need to complete in order to reach the desired outcomes. Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources and the current literature using appropriate APA format and style. Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings. By Day 5 Respond to at least two different colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways: ·       Provide a constructive critique of your colleague’s post. Offer different perspectives on the social factors your colleague selected. ·       Analyze your colleague’s post and expand on the interventions with additional insight. ·       Share an insight gained from having read your colleague’s posting.   Discussion 2: Assessment for Social Support week 3 Social interactions and support have long-term physiological, psychological, and behavioral consequences impacting health outcomes. The importance of social support in improving health outcomes has led to increased attention to interventions. These interventions might include illness-specific support groups, health education programs, and community resources that engage socially isolated patients. When assessing a patient, medical social workers must consider the presence, nature, and level of social support that exist for that individual. In addition, an evaluation of a patient’s perception of his or her social support is important. To prepare for this Discussion: Review this week’s resources. Consider a patient, the illness, and the social support system of the patient. Focus on the importance of social support on illness and health outcomes. Think about assessment of social support. Consider ways to improve social support for your patients that might lead to better health outcomes. By Day 4 Post a description of the social support system of the patient you selected. Explain how the social support might improve the illness outcomes. Then, explain the importance of assessing the quality of the patient’s social support system. List a set of three questions that you think are important for assessing the patient’s social support system. Justify your selection. Then, explain how the roles of a medical social worker might improve the quality of the support for the patient. Explain one strategy that might be effective in improving the social support system of a patient. Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources and the current literature using appropriate APA format and style.   Discussion: week 4 Patient–Provider Communications Research shows that the quality of the patient–provider relationship (Beach, Keruly, & Moore, 2006) and the communications between the patient and provider (Piette et al., 2003) influence a patient’s course of treatment and health outcomes. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to good communication in the patient–provider relationship. Health professionals debate about the best strategies for effective communication. The initial steps of the Generalist Intervention Model support engagement and building of rapport between a patient and a social worker. Medical social workers are trained to be effective listeners and communicators. Given their unique skills, medical social workers are often called upon to support and navigate the relationships between patients and other providers on the health care team as advocates, liaisons, and mediators. To prepare for this Discussion: Consider patient–provider communications as an integral part of delivering social work services to patients. Review this week’s resources and think about how to deliver effective communications within the patient–provider relationship. By Day 4 Post a description of the importance of patient–provider communication. Be sure to address the relationship between patient–provider communications and illness outcomes. Identify a minimum of three factors that might lead to poor patient–provider communications. Provide your rationale. Explain the ways patient–provider communications might be improved. Then, explain the role culture plays in patient–provider communications. Finally, explain the roles of a social worker in assisting a patient to improve communications with other members of the health care team.

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