Aurora agencies work to remove stigma surrounding mental health, expand access to treatment

From the minute you shake his hand, 24-year-old University of Colorado Denver student Ibrahim Zien radiates warmth. He’s eager to learn, sweetly nervous and thoughtful in choosing his words.

The Aurora resident earned a degree in political science from CU Denver in spring and is studying accounting. He’s a self-proclaimed “huge politics addict” and says he has been since high school.

“The thing I love most about politics is that it’s involved in literally everything in your daily life,” Zien said. “Even though people don’t like to admit it.”

Zien appears to be a model student and friend — someone who is successfully juggling a lot of balls. You might never guess he deals with episodes of anxiety.

Zien initially didn’t know what to do when anxiety struck. He just knew that he desperately needed to put an end to the daily panic attacks and fainting spells that were “the worst feeling ever.” He stopped driving for fear he’d faint and crash. He felt restricted in everything he did.

When Zien decided to seek help, resources rose to meet him. Health care agencies across Aurora are implementing new techniques to better reach residents seeking mental health care.

The Kaiser Permanente office Zien visited was prepared to meet his needs. Kaiser is taking a number of initiatives to lower the point of entry for mental health intervention. Zien’s primary care physician, like others in the health care system, is trained to recognize signs of depression or anxiety. The training is part of a deliberate shift to integrated care.

“We are making mental health services available at the primary care visit,” said Dr. Margaret Ferguson, executive medical director of the Colorado Permanente Medical Group. Ferguson is a Colorado native and practicing pediatrician of more than 20 years. She was working the day of the historic Columbine shooting.

“As a pediatrician, …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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