Focus on Mental Health: An interview with providers, Part 1

Dr. Bowden and Dr. Mahar stress how important it is to view mental health with the same concern as physical health
In part one, Dr. Jennifer Bowden and Dr. Kelley Mahar stress the importance of viewing mental health the same way we do physical health
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 11:02 AM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - This week your TV6 Morning News Team is diving into mental health topics as school resumes across Upper Michigan.

We’ve been asked by our viewers: “Who are the providers and what are health systems doing to address what’s happening in our schools, families and communities?”

On Monday, Elizabeth spoke with two providers from UP Health System.

Doctor Jennifer Bowden went to school at Michigan State University. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, integrated in a pediatric clinic in Marquette, working via telehealth most of the time.

Doctor Kelley Mahar has been in the U.P. for 20 years, spending most of her career at Pathways. As a psychiatrist, she is the associate program director for the mydocs MSU psychiatry residency in the U.P. providing training to MSU students in their third and fourth years of residency.

In part one of our conversation, we covered the impact of mental health on our overall health and well-being. Doctor Bowden and Doctor Mahar both say it’s time we all start viewing our mental health with the same concern as we do our physical health.

Dr. Bowden: “Mental health we know is actually physical health and just like if somebody had a problem with their physical health, they would do see a doctor. We would want people who have mental illness to seek medical treatment for that. Just like we know that mental health is physical health, and physical health problems affect other physical health problems, we know that mental health problems affect other physical health problems. One example of that is that we know if somebody has untreated depression after they have a stroke or a heart attack, they’re more likely to have poorer outcomes.”

Elizabeth Peterson: “I think it’s gotten better where we’re starting to recognize it, talk about it, treat it… but it’s still not always on the same level as the physical health, right? There’s still this underlying – it’s not as important – you know. Heart disease is more important to treat than your mental health. Do you feel like we’ve made steps forward and how much further do we have to go?”

Dr. Bowden: “I do. I do think that the nation as a whole is recognizing mental health more, especially after COVID, since the isolation has affected everybody in negative ways and really made an impact on the nation’s mental health. I still think there’s a long way to go to helping people in the community understand and also believe that really addressing their mental health is going to affect their overall medical health and their families’.”

Elizabeth: “Dr. Mahar, how does someone know when this is more than just a bad day? It’s time to actually seek some professional help. When is it time to reach out to a professional?”

Dr. Mahar: “If things are getting in the way of your functioning. If you know that something just doesn’t feel right. If other people are giving you feedback that something just doesn’t seem right. There’s no shame in seeking professional help, right? It’s the smart thing to do, and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be put in the hospital or that you are going to have to take a bunch of medicine or that kind of thing. There are a whole range of ways that we can provide support and help for getting it figured out.”