After months of decreased social interactions and increased health fears, mental health concerns continue to rise worldwide, including here in our community. Recognizing the impact of the COVID pandemic on mental health, the Quincy Medical Group (QMG) Behavioral Health team went to work to help patients.
The result has been the addition of the Behavioral Health Integration Program, which now includes Trey Sexton, a full-time Behavioral Health Consultant who works directly with primary care providers to help provide support to patients at the time they need it. Often, patients will go to their healthcare providers first with concerns, so meeting them in that moment is important.
“As the impact of COVID on mental health started became clearer, we realized that the traditional model of patients being referred by their primary care physicians for outpatient therapy wasn’t the most efficient way to meet the need for folks reporting intense mental health symptoms to their primary care providers,” explained QMG Clinical Coordinator Nikki Shields. “We needed to find a way to bridge the gap between primary care and behavioral health so each patient’s mental health needs could be assessed more quickly.”
In August 2021, Sexton joined QMG as a Behavioral Health Consultant. The addition of Sexton to the Behavioral Health team has made it possible for patients to meet with a mental health professional during, or shortly after, a visit with their primary care providers.
“The Behavioral Health Integration Program is aimed at making sure that patients receive immediate care, education on mental health, while providing resources and connections to help them get started on the right path to a healthy recovery. These duties include anywhere from providing grief counseling to psychoeducation for family supports,” Sexton explained.
Sexton’s expertise lies in psychoeducation and assessment primarily, but he holds certifications in substance-abuse counseling, individual resiliency, motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and trauma-focused care. He also hold a master’s degree in Social Work (Clinical Focus) from Rutgers University.
In addition to providing support for patients, the Behavioral Health Integration Program supports primary care providers as well as addresses mental health concerns immediately.
“Much of my job requires me to be flexible, so if a provider meets with a patient who expresses mental health concerns, they can have a trained mental health professional step in and provide immediate mental health assistance,” Sexton said. “I work with the providers to identify specific mental health needs for patients and serve as a touchpoint for both patient and providers, so the entire treatment team, patient included, stays informed.”
The circumstances for each patient are unique, so their next steps are too. Some patients do go on to see an outpatient therapist, while others find that their needs are met by meeting with Sexton.
“The main benefit I see within patients is that they leave every appointment knowing that their mental health concern has been addressed immediately and leave with options,” Sexton shared. “For many of my patients who have never seen a professional for their mental health, having a person help guide them through the steps and provide education helps alleviate some of the stress that can come with navigating a new environment.”
For more information on Behavioral Health Services and Primary Care at QMG, visit quincymedgroup.com.