Mental Health Awareness Q&A

ASC honors Mental Health Awareness month and we are committed to all our relationships -patients, families, and facilities – to be an active leader in the conversation and treatment of Mental Health counseling/therapies/medicine.   We are committed to “Just Better Care”.

To shed more light on this conversation and our ability to act on our commitment, we invite you to join our recent conversation with Jahne Struby, MSW, LCSW.  (Jahne serves as our senior staff ASC counselor/therapist… and provides “Just Better Care” every moment of every day!)

Jahne, considering your patient population at ASC what is the primary focus of your mental health therapy and patient strategies?  

“We focus every day on the following common therapies: 

  • Providing techniques to reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety
  • Grief counseling
  • Adjustment to lifestyle changes
  • Transitioning from home to nursing home care
  • Improving communication skills
  • Improving coping skills

We also offer Advance Care Planning.”

What is Advance Care Planning?  Please describe your role and the role of ASC providers in Advance Care Planning. 

“Advance Care Planning (ACP) is making decisions about the care you would want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself.  These are your decisions to make regardless of what is chosen for your care and the decisions are based on your personal values, preferences, and discussions with your loved ones.  These go along nicely with a Living Will and/or a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

In our organization, these are done by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and are then reviewed by a physician.  Once complete, they become a part of the patient’s chart at the facility in which they reside, thus making them easily accessible to the responsible parties.  By having an ACP completed, they make decisions at end of life much easier for those who are left responsible.” 

What are the most common mental health maladies that you encounter?

“Frequently, I run into individuals who are frustrated, often not understanding why they have been placed in a facility or whom did not want to leave their prior living arrangement.  Often, this is when the greatest amount of stress and anxiety are present.

Trying to adjust to a completely new lifestyle is difficult and emotions can run high.  Where there is anxiety, depression usually isn’t very far behind.  Couple that with increasing health problems and you can easily see why these patients need additional assistance.” 

What is your advice for others working with this unique population of residents/patients?

“As far a mental health goes, those of us who work with individuals with mental health concerns need to be patient and considerate offering compassion and guidance along the way.  This population tends to be judged critically for their behaviors and comments and are desperate to be treated with some sort of normalcy.” 

Give us a “word to the wise” regarding mental illness… if you would:

“First, we must remember that mental illness is not a choice, it’s an illness just like any other physical illness that people live with daily.  Many individuals with mental illness have suffered through horrible circumstances, time and time again.  We see these folks now, in the present; but if we really knew their story, I am certain our level of empathy would increase.

How we approach others is key to deescalating a situation, reminding ourselves that we have not walked in their shoes. Regardless of the situation, these individuals are still worthy of being treated like human beings.  Being more mindful and empathetic will certainly improve the lines of communication, while building trust and rapport. “

What is new in your world and what currently concerns your heart for those that your serve?

“We are seeing nursing home residents that are younger and younger all the time and their concerns and frustrations often differ from that of the elderly patient.  With that being said, troublesome symptoms are rampant and we need to do more to help these individuals improve their quality of life.Staff need more specific training, especially regarding the young psych patients now admitting to the facilities.  Learning how to cope with behaviors, improve communication, and deescalating a situation would provide much benefit.” 

Thank you Jahne for your heart for ‘others first’ and your commitment to provide “Just Better Care”.  We are thrilled to be associated with you!