After years of working in the substance abuse industry with dual-diagnosed patients, we’ve found that primary mental health facilities are treating patients incorrectly. Many substance abuse facilities treat dual-diagnosed patients, meaning that the substance abuse facility treats patients that have two disorders: the primary being a substance abuse disorder and the secondary being a mental health diagnosis such as bipolar disorder or ADD.
In order for the patient to be treated at a primary mental health facility, the primary disorder must be substance abuse so that the less-severe mental health disorder won’t interfere with the progress of the patient’s substance abuse treatment. In some cases, the clinical teams of dual-diagnosed substance abuse facilities found that, after admitting patients anywhere from a day to several weeks, the patients’ mental health diagnosis would become the primary issue and hinder the substance abuse treatment’s progress.
From there, the patients would be transferred to a mental health primary treatment facility, where treatment would be done in a group setting with each patient having a different diagnosis. For example, in a 10-person treatment group, there could be two patients diagnosed with bipolar I and bipolar II disorder, three patients with ADD/ADHD, two with schizophrenia, and three with major depressive or anxiety disorder. Depending on the level of care, these groups could last for three to seven hours.
We saw this issue in over 90% of the mental health centers we toured.
This caused huge hurdles for every patient in these groups. One of the main complaints from patients was that they didn’t feel safe or comfortable talking about their diagnosis with other people that didn’t understand it—which is very valid. An even bigger worry was how a therapist could properly treat the group with so many varieties of mental health diagnoses in the same room. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
We spent several years trying to convince mental health primary centers to have specific treatment tracks, but eventually, we saw that the best way to make a difference in our community (and the world) was by creating our own treatment center with innovative, comprehensive practices.
At The Mental Health Center of San Diego, we have individualized treatment tracks with specific curriculums to match each patient’s diagnosis. For example, our ADD/ADHD treatment track doesn’t have the same curriculum as our bipolar treatment track, and our anxiety treatment track isn’t the same as our OCD treatment track.
We understand how crucial it is to adopt this model in order to make advancements in treating mental health in the future.
What if cancer patients were treated in a group setting like this? Let’s say there are three people with cancer in the group, but each person had cancer in different parts of the body. Patient A has throat cancer, Patient B has colon cancer, and Patient C has skin cancer. They are all getting treatment at the same cancer treatment center because the center advertised that it treated throat, colon, and skin cancer. But when treatment starts, all three patients are getting treated just for throat cancer. Patients B and C are at a huge disadvantage of achieving remission because they are receiving throat cancer treatment when what they need are specific treatments for colon cancer and skin cancer.
This is exactly what is happening with many mental health treatment facilities right now. Patients are participating in group therapies that aren’t specific to their diagnosis. There are some treatment modalities such as CBT or DBT that are universal and can be used for all mental health diagnoses, but the overall treatment has to be different and compartmentalized to the diagnosis for long term success.
For patients that have multiple diagnoses, facilities should address each diagnosis simultaneously in different treatment tracks throughout their day. In certain situations, one treatment track must be complete before starting the other track to avoid relapses or regression. It’s a case-by-case basis in which our team works together to come up with the best plan of action for that patient’s success.
Take the first step and reach out today. Our admissions team is standing by to help you with every step of the process. Insurance could cover up to 100% of the cost of treatment with no out of pocket cost to you.