Thursday, November 26, 2020

(Courtesy of St. Mary’s General Hospital) St. Mary’s General Hospital opened a completely new, state-of-the-art unit that provides patients a full team of experts including psychiatrists, psychiatric staff, geriatric specialists and psychiatric occupational specialists to assess and treat the unique needs of this vulnerable population. Patients will be admitted with a primary acute need for inpatient behavioral health treatment for conditions including, but not limited to:

  • Acute behavioral crisis
  • General anxiety disorders
  • Major depression disorders
  • Neurocognitive disorders such as
    Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bipolar & mood disorders
  • Trauma & stress disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicidal thoughts & behaviors
  • OCD & related disorders
  • Medication adjustments

The unit can accommodate patients with certain chronic illnesses and these referrals are handled on a case-by-case basis to ensure that each patient receives the appropriate level of care.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

Is behavioral health the new politically correct term for psychiatric services? Normally we think of your health as your physical body, which is affected by sleep, diet and exercise. However, there is another side of your well-being to consider—the way you think, feel and act. These relate to your behavioral and mental health—terms that are often used interchangeably. Yet, there are subtle distinctions that matter when it comes to diagnosing and treating psychological issues.

It’s difficult to talk about behavioral or mental health without exploring some of the corresponding conditions. Mental health illnesses are thoughts and feelings, which include depression, anxiety, bipolar disease and schizophrenia. Negative behaviors don’t always accompany these mental health conditions. When a distinct, regular behavior goes beyond the scope of a typical mental illness and begins to negatively affect someone, it becomes a behavioral disorder that typically requires more specific treatment. Behavioral health has more to do with the specific actions people take—how they respond in various scenarios. Common behavioral disorders include substance abuse; gambling addiction; self-injury; and eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating.

Substance abuse often starts when people misuse substances to self-medicate or cope with an existing issue. While it may seem to work for a time, this behavior eventually worsens the problem and becomes one itself. Gambling addiction is similar to substance abuse, which can stimulate the brain’s reward systems to overproduce dopamine, creating a need to pursue risky behaviors or result in withdrawal when the chemical high isn’t achieved.

Self-injury and eating disorders are more specifically tied to a negative self-image. Not only can these behaviors lead to significant medical complications, but they present a specific set of mental illness issues associated with self-image obsession and lack of perceived control.

Given the unique issues of these patients, the referral process has been streamlined to make access to care faster and easier for both patients and their doctors. In addition, our Psychiatric Medical Care Unit Team and social workers are available to help provide a smooth continuum of care for patients with special post-discharge needs.

For more information or to refer a patient for admission, please call 973-365-4422.

St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred—is among the top hospitals in America for health, quality and patient safety! St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country.

To learn more about how St. Mary’s General Hospital is providing safe care during COVID-19 and always, visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral. For questions, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at [email protected]