Want to get started on your mental health? Start with your primary care doctor

Hassan Shafeeq
A doctor explains test results to Karen Crum during an office visit at the Meade District Hospital in Mead, Kan.
Charlie Riedel | AP 2006

Long waits for an appointment and pop culture stereotypes of lying on a couch are enough to turn many off from seeking mental health services. But Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic, says it can be as easy as talking to your primary care physician.

"This is part of our training. This is one of the reasons we went into primary care," he told MPR News host Tom Crann. "We don't separate out mental health issues with the rest of the things that go on in our bodies."

He recommended making a separate appointment to talk about mental health, but said any way you bring it up is OK. The important thing is starting the conversation.

"When you're suffering, you're thinking, 'Oh gosh, this is terrible. I don't want to talk to anybody about this. They're going to think I'm strange,'" Hallberg said. "Consider where we're coming from. We're dealing with this all the time, every day in clinic."

For what you can expect during the conversation with you provider, listen to the full interview above.

This interview is part of "Call to Mind," MPR's initiative to foster new conversations around mental health.

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