Mental and Behavioral Health Care:
Last year, Virginia Garcia provided high quality and culturally appropriate behavioral and mental health care to over 1,200 of our neighbors in need.
Dimitri came to Virginia Garcia complaining of frequent headaches. His primary care provider met with him and did an exam, but found no physical cause for the headaches. After talking with Dimitri, his provider found out that he had recently lost his job and had been unsuccessful in obtaining work. Because Virginia Garcia offers integrated behavioral health services at all of the clinics, Dimitri was referred to a behaviorist that same day to work on his anxiety and the resulting headaches.
At Dimitri’s first appointment, they discussed the stressors that were in his life. He had not been sleeping well since losing his job and his family members—also feeling the economic stress—were not getting along, adding to the atmosphere of anxiety in the home. Dimitri and his behaviorist discussed basic cognitive behavioral therapy concepts and they explored how thoughts and actions are connected, often affecting physical health.
Dimitri began to understand that when he constantly worried about his job, he felt bad about himself, his anxiety increased, he couldn’t sleep and the headaches came back. With the professional guidance of his behaviorist, they explored the idea of allowing a specific time in the day to worry, but letting the worries go for the rest of the day so that it didn’t consume all of his waking moments. The behaviorist gave Dimitri an activity list of pleasant events and encouraged him to do one thing on the list each day in order to have enjoyable moments that would help to distract him from the constant worry cycle.
Dimitri came back three weeks later and reported feeling much better. In fact, he had not had a headache in over two weeks! He was able to implement the suggestions made by his behaviorist and continued to use enjoyable activities to distract from worry and increase positive emotions. Now Dimitri’s entire family uses the activity list and is spending more time together. Dimitri shared, "It’s like a prescription for life!" and he reported that the family keeps the list on the refrigerator and regularly borrows from it for ideas of things to do together.
Dimitri is a perfect example of how appropriate intervention, combined with behavioral health principles, can have a positive real-world impact on an individual’s life. By the way, Dimitri came back for one more follow-up visit a month later and is still doing great!
*We are so grateful to our patients who chose to share their stories of health and healing with us. To respect their privacy, patient images and names have been changed.