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Should You Discuss Nutritional Psychology With Your Behavioral Health Clients?

Do the foods we eat influence our mental health? That’s the idea behind nutritional psychology, also called nutritional psychiatry.

Support for Nutritional Psychology

Studies suggest there is, indeed, a connection between food and mental health. After all, our brains require food for fuel, just like any other organ. It makes sense that the kind of fuel is important.

Plus, the gastrointestinal tract is responsible for producing 95 percent of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation. The condition of the gastrointestinal tract, including the presence of beneficial bacteria or harmful inflammation, could affect both digestion and emotions.

One systematic review, published in 2018 in Molecular Psychiatry, analyzed more than 40 studies that looked at the connection between following a healthy diet and depressive symptoms or clinical depression. Results indicated that a healthy diet may offer some protection against depression.

Stanford Medicine, the medical school at Stanford University, established the Metabolic Psychiatry Clinic, the first academic specialty clinic in the United States that evaluates and treats patients with psychiatric illness and metabolic abnormalities. Compared to the general population, people with psychiatric illness have a higher proportion of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Many patients also may experience metabolic abnormalities from taking certain medications for mental health conditions.

Behavioral health clinicians who encourage healthy lifestyle choices could help improve their clients’ outcomes. Positive lifestyle behaviors can also improve physical health, especially when encouraged in partnership with the rest of a client’s care team.

An Ideal Mental Health Diet?

There may not be a single, ideal diet that everyone should follow for their mental health. Each person is different, with different nutritional needs. However, some research offers insight that behavioral health providers and other clinicians might use to guide their clients’ nutritional decisions.

For example, the Molecular Psychiatry study found support for the use of a Mediterranean diet in treating depression. Generally, this diet includes relatively high consumption of olive oil, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and fish, with moderate consumption of dairy products and wine, and limited meat products.

Another 2018 study, published in the World Journal of Psychiatry, looked at the most nutrient-dense foods and how they might help prevent or mitigate depression. They found a connection between 12 “Antidepressant Nutrients” and the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders. These nutrients include:

Folate
Iron
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
Magnesium
Potassium
Selenium
Thiamine
Vitamin A
Vitamins B6 and B12
Vitamin C
Zinc

Foods with the highest concentrations of these nutrients were found to be:

Various seafoods (including oysters and mussels)
Organ meats
Leafy greens and lettuces
Peppers
Cruciferous vegetables

The study authors recommended that further research examine these nutrients and foods, and that clinicians consider their dietary value in supporting clients with depression.

When you recommend a treatment for your client—whether that’s lifestyle changes, medications, or a type of psychotherapy—how do you know it’s working? Tracking outcomes is not only important for your clients, but is required in some form by various state and federal agencies. The right outcome tracking and documentation is vital for your practice’s success.

The OutcomeTools system by BestNotes helps reduce the hassle of recording and tracking outcome data. You can get OutcomeTools as a standalone tool, or as part of the BestNotes EHR solution. Contact us today to learn how OutcomeTools can help your behavioral health practice stay compliant, profitable, and effective.

date:  Mar 25, 2021
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How Will New Legislation Impact Addiction Treatment?

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. Much of the funding in this act is related to COVID-19 relief, such as vaccine distribution, unemployment assistance, lending to small businesses and organizations, and expanded testing.

However, a portion of the spending bill is also related to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Most of the SUD funding involves publicly funded treatment, but there is also funding available for all SUD treatment providers through the previously approved Healthcare Provider Fund.

Under the latest spending bill:

Each of the Substance Use Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will receive $1.75 billion.

Another $80 million will go toward mental and behavioral health training for healthcare professionals and public safety officers.
$20 million will go toward evidence-based education and awareness for healthcare professionals and first responders.
$40 million will go toward the promotion of mental and behavioral health among healthcare professionals and first responders.

A new SAMHSA program, intended to provide prevention programs for overdose and other drug misuse, will receive $30 million.
The Health Resources and Services Administration will receive $100 million for its Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program, with the aim to promote focused training that will expand access to services.

Other funding will go toward a new grant program for community-based and behavioral health organizations throughout the nation. Organizations in each state can apply directly for the grants, which can be used for medication-assisted treatment and telehealth treatment services.

Over the past year, substance misuse and overdose fatalities have increased across the nation. The BestNotes blog has previously highlighted some of the findings around this trend.

Recently, analysis of nearly 190 million emergency department (ED) visits found higher rates of opioid overdoses between March and October 2020 compared to the same dates in 2019. From mid-April onward, the weekly rates of ED visits for drug overdoses rose by as much as 45 percent compared to the same period in 2019. That study was published in JAMA Psychiatry on Feb. 3.

States and communities that have struggled with increased behavioral health concerns are preparing to make use of their portions of the spending bill. For example, Hawaii is set to receive about $15 million to support mental health programs such as the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant. Rhode Island will receive an estimated $3-4 million, for the state to distribute to local governments and community organizations to use in providing treatment and prevention services.

Check out the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers for further analysis and public policy updates.

Expanding funding and access to SUD services means that addiction treatment providers could see greater demand. Make sure your practice software can keep up.

BestNotes EHR solutions, designed for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, were designed to help you reduce frustration, save time, and boost profitability. From admission to eprescribing to outcome tracking to reporting, we cover the entire client experience and your business process. Contact us to schedule a free demo and see how we can help your practice succeed.

date:  Mar 15, 2021
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The Power of Outdoors for Mental Health Treatment

Health providers and clients everywhere are looking for different solutions to many behavioral health disorders and symptoms. While some potential mental health treatments may be untested or controversial, one approach has long shown significant promise, without high costs or side effects: Mother Nature and the great outdoors.

Many years of scientific research and anecdotal accounts demonstrate that outdoor, “green space” can reduce stress and anxiety, encourage mindfulness, and increase physical activity. These green environments include tiny urban parks, rural environments, or natural forests. Activities can range from peaceful meditation to casual hiking to heart-pounding white-water rafting.

What’s the Latest on Outdoor Activities and Mental Health?

Adventure Explorations, an outdoor adventure guiding company based in Pennsylvania, recently published a white paper on the link between outdoor activity and mental health. You can download the report here.

Although people can benefit from exercise and physical movement anywhere, the white paper notes that it’s even better if the activity takes place outside, rather than in a gym or indoor class. The authors cite previous research that found connections between outdoor activities and positive mental health outcomes.

Many types of mental health treatment, including pharmaceuticals, can be helpful, but may take weeks or months to show results. Clients also may experience medication side effects. In contrast, spending time in nature and outdoor activities may show faster improvements without serious side effects or high financial costs.

More Research Focuses on Great Outdoors and Behavioral Health

Additional research is needed to shed light on the best kinds of outdoor activities or green spaces, and who can benefit the most. Future studies can help guide behavioral health clinicians to the best type of activities for their clients.

For example, the University of New Hampshire’s Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center is planning a new, randomized study to examine the effectiveness of outdoor behavioral health (OBH). Specifically, the study will look at whether OBH can be used as a prescriptive treatment for adolescents struggling with depression, anxiety, or substance misuse.

OBH, also known as wilderness therapy, may help teens struggling with addiction, or emotional, behavioral, or relational difficulties. With wilderness therapy, adolescents participate in one or more outdoor experiences, such as hiking, camping, or climbing. This combines the advantages of physical activity with the benefits of green space exposure. OBH may also involve group living, group therapy, and one-on-one counseling.

A team led by Michael Gass, professor of outdoor education and director of UNH’s Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center, will compare treatment methods and outcomes among at least 100 teens. The study will also consider the role that socioeconomic factors may have in the treatment process.

Whatever treatment method you recommend for your clients, it’s more important than ever to know how well those treatments are working. However, client outcomes can be a hassle to measure, track, and report.

Fortunately, the OutcomeTools system by BestNotes makes it easy for you to use outcome data to track your clients and therapeutic effectiveness and meet or even surpass industry standards. OutcomeTools is available as a standalone tool or included in the BestNotes EHR solution. Contact us today to learn how OutcomeTools can help your behavioral health and addiction treatment practice.

date:  Mar 08, 2021
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How Colorado is Addressing Addiction and Substance Misuse Treatment Challenges

In the wake of the response to the coronavirus, communities across the United States are seeing a rise in substance misuse and addiction. Complicating the issue, rural areas in particular have limited access to addiction treatment services. This is an increasing problem in Colorado, where geography challenges treatment providers even as overdoses are on the rise.

A new program in Colorado, launched by the state’s Office of Behavioral Health, delivers mobile addiction treatment in renovated RVs to rural areas with limited behavioral health services. The agency used a $10 million federal grant to turn the RVs into mobile clinics and staff them with healthcare providers.

Mobile health clinics have operated for years, but usually deliver vision care or dental services, or collect blood donations. Mobile addiction treatment is less common, but is becoming increasingly valuable.

These transformed RVs offer a variety of substance use-related services:

In-person drug testing
Physical exams
Counseling
Used needle disposal
Broadband access for telehealth visits with providers who can prescribe medication to treat addiction

These RVs currently serve six regions, with a seventh region serviced by a refitted SUV. When the federal grant ends in September 2022, the mobile unit operators will continue to use the RVs while billing Medicaid and private insurance.

Programs to address and mitigate substance misuse are becoming increasingly crucial as Colorado faces an increase in drug overdoses. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), provisional 2020 data show 1,333 overdose deaths among Colorado residents. This is the highest rate of overdose deaths since 1975.

Substance misuse experts have pointed to a variety of factors that led to increased overdoses. These include increased anxiety, depression, and stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The increasing prevalence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl is also linked to a rise in drug overdose fatalities. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported that, in testing fentanyl pills around the country, the DEA said 26 percent contain a lethal level dose.

The Denver medical examiner’s office reports that there were 119 deaths from fentanyl in that city alone in 2020, seven times the 17 fatalities in 2018. Fentanyl may be added to heroin to make it more potent, or used to create counterfeit Xanax or Percocet tablets.

Individuals facing addiction and overdose are often in serious need of a stable setting, according to Marc Condojani, the director of Adult Treatment and Recovery with the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health. Condojani points out that there are obstacles to providing services in residential and inpatient facilities.

Many traditional, brick-and-mortar addiction clinics no longer accept new patients or offer in-person services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some facilities have had to close temporarily due to COVID-19 outbreaks, while others have reduced bed capacity to enforce social distancing requirements. This loss of onsite, traditional addiction treatment services could be seriously harmful for individuals in underserved areas.

As a behavioral health and addiction treatment provider, you’re seeing increased demand for services while challenges increase. BestNotes provides customized EHR solutions to help you increase profitability, stay compliant, and improve your client outcomes. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you work smarter and keep up with demand.

date:  Mar 04, 2021
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What is Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR) in Behavioral Healthcare?

Traumatic experiences are often sudden, one-time incidents, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or school shooting. Other traumas may occur over a longer period of time, such as a lengthy illness, financial difficulties, or domestic abuse.

While some people can recover from trauma without long-lasting effects, many others develop mental-health symptoms that can last for years. There are several therapeutic approaches for addressing trauma, such as Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) therapy.

What is Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR)?

TIR is a form of psychotherapy first developed in the 1980s by California psychiatrist Dr. Frank Gerbode. TIR is meant to help a person become desensitized to painful experiences, which can reduce or eliminate their negative impact.

TIR is a rapid treatment method, compared to more traditional psychotherapy. This method involves a client re-experiencing their past trauma in a safe, judgment-free environment, without distractions or subjective interpretations.

In general, TIR is delivered in one-on-one sessions between the client and a trained facilitator. These sessions are usually weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes in length. The number of sessions depend on the individual client.

The idea behind TIR is that, when a person experiences a physical or emotional trauma, they can either fully confront and experience it, or try to block it from their awareness. When the person faces the incident and does not try to escape the negative effects or emotions involved, then the event is “completed” and it becomes part of their past.

However, if the person tries to block the experience, or repress it, the incident cannot be “completed” and becomes a kind of “unfinished business” that continues to have negative effects. In this case, the person’s existence can become too tied up in the past, preventing them from fully experiencing the present.

With TRI, the person can enter a “safe space” in which they can more fully examine and experience the incident that they had previously blocked. This way, they can release their resistance to it, as well as the negative emotions and thought patterns associated with it. Thus, the traumatic incident is “completed” and no longer affects the present.

Who benefits most from TIR?

Clients who are aware of a specific, traumatic event and how it has affected them are the most likely to benefit from TIR. However, it may also help individuals who experience unwanted emotions, sensations, or attitudes without knowing what specific traumas may have caused them. TIR may also help treat addiction, though this application requires further research.

When fully completed, TRI has been able to eliminate symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many clients. They also may gain new, helpful insights of their own, and even increase their quality of life.

One study conducted in the Tallahassee Federal Correction Institute in Florida examined the effectiveness of TIR in 123 female inmates who had experienced interpersonal violence. Participants who were assigned to TIR experienced a statistically significant decrease in symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, compared to the control group.

Demand for behavioral health services are on the rise, and current events may lead to an increase in trauma that will further drive individuals to seek mental health care. Whether you provide services that address PTSD, substance misuse, ADHD, depression, or other behavioral health needs, BestNotes offers EHR solutions that help you save time, stay profitable, and improve client outcomes. Contact us today to learn how our customizable solutions can fit your practice’s workflow.

date:  Mar 01, 2021
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