The past couple days I’ve been enjoying a new experience at the National Council for Behavioral Health’s NatCon Conference. It’s been quite an experience for a techguy like me to dip my toes into the world of behavioral health. Plus, in many ways this takes me back since when I started my journey into the world of healthcare, I was charged with implementing an EMR into a university counseling center. I’m no doubt one of only a few bloggers that’s ever blogged about behavioral health EMR and the challenges of implementing a general medicine focused EMR (most of them anyway) in a counseling center.
As I noted in my previous post, what’s surprising is how many things behavioral health EMR has in common with the rest of the healthcare world. That theme seems to carry through.
However, today I had a couple more insights. First, we think we have it complex when it comes to medical care and sometimes it is very complex. However, the challenges that behavioral health professionals face is much more challenging and often absolutely gut wrenching. Hearing some of the stories just tugs at your heart in an extraordinary way. It definitely takes someone special to work in the behavioral health field. That’s especially true given the many stigmas they have to battle against. It was amazing to hear how many times the stigma of behavioral health was discussed at the conference. It’s unfortunate how much stigma holds us back.
Second, we need better collaboration between behavioral health providers and the rest of the healthcare system. In a private Q&A I saw with Dr. Kevin Pho (better known as @KevinMD), he clearly articulated how there’s only so much he can do to help a patient with behavioral health issues in his 10-15 minute appointment slot. We have to work together to solve these problems or it will never get better.
As I think about the need for collaboration and overcoming stigmas, I can’t help but think of the Twitter Chat session I attended at the conference. I’ve always been amazed by how an open platform like Twitter can bring together so many communities of people around a common cause. These communities can break down barriers and stigmas. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. I see it happening every day on social media. The news media likes to only cover the bad effects of social media, but there is a tremendous amount of good that comes from actively participating in social media as well.
All in all, #NatCon16 was an eye opening experience for a blogger like me. It gave me a reminder of how challenging behavioral health is, but also the tremendous opportunities that are available to do so much good in the world when we tackle these challenging problems and are successful.