Small Steps Can Make a Big Impact on Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When we collectively talk about health, the conversation has shifted to “whole person” health, but in practice we still tend to focus on physical health. This disconnect is supported by most conventional health insurance plans that consider dental a separate benefit, vision a separate benefit and often carve out or don’t even cover behavioral health support. This misalignment presents a challenge to healthcare providers who desire to provide whole person health but still must operate within the constraints of the system.

If we can’t change the system, maybe it’s better to think small and focus on what we can do when we think someone may be struggling.

Individually, we can take personal responsibility for reaching out to our friends, family and neighbors to offer social support. Being lonely can be as dangerous to health as obesity and is also associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure. Poor social supports make it harder to recover from mental illnesses, while strong social support system improves overall outcomes and the ability to bounce back from stress. It’s important to remember that we don’t have to be a therapist, we don’t have to avoid the conversation because we don’t know what to say, we just need to have the courage to be a compassionate friend who checks in rather than avoiding the awkward conversation.

This is laudable step in the right direction, but in the meantime:

“Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” ― Margaret Mead

PETTIGREW FQHC has recently assisted several health centers with HRSA’s recently announced “Integrated Behavioral Health Services” (IBHS) supplemental opportunity and we look forward to assisting our clients to enhance their behavioral health offerings, including the prevention or treatment of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders. 

Contact us today and let’s talk about your health center’s behavioral health program - We’re here to answer your questions and help you develop a program that works for your patients!

Also, don’t forget to check out our Behavioral Health Resources for health centers.

Lesa Peterson is a Principal of PETTIGREW FQHC and a Consultant with Merces Consulting. Previously, as the Director of Operations for a community health center, she was responsible for the administrative operations of the organization, including a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® program.

Read more about Lesa here.

To contact Lesa, email her at

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