December 28, 2021

How Behavioral Health Specialists Are Integral to Primary Care

The mind and body are often viewed as separate entities, but in reality, mental and physical health are actually closely correlated and can impact each other — positively and negatively.

At Firefly Health, we believe that mental health is as important as physical health. That’s why we integrate behavioral health care directly into our primary care model by screening patients regularly for common mental health conditions. Each patient care team also includes a behavioral health specialist, like Zory Sanchez!

What’s your role at Firefly Health & what does it encompass?

As a Behavioral Health Specialist, I’m responsible for ensuring patients' behavioral health conditions are assessed, triaged, treated, and monitored. I provide direct clinical care to patients while collaborating with physicians, nurse practitioners, and health guides to ensure all patients' health goals are met. I also work closely with the Firefly consulting psychiatrist, who assists with complex diagnoses and providing psychopharmacology recommendations to our primary care providers.

What’s your background?

I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker by training. I’ve worked in several different settings such as hospitals, university, managed care, foster care, community health center and have had the opportunity to work with various mental health populations.

Why did you pursue a career as a licensed clinical social worker?

While I was an undergraduate psychology student with Florida International University, I learned that social work was a clinical field that provides a wide range of opportunities to serve individuals, families, and communities compared to other mental health careers. Clinical social workers have the training and background to offer psychotherapy and may also take on a more traditional social work role through client advocacy and helping individuals connect with the social services they need. It means a great deal to me to be able to help make a positive impact across different settings and populations.

Why do you work for a primary care practice instead of a mental health practice?

I believe that both our physical and mental health are connected. Individuals struggling with a mental health condition are at risk of experiencing physical conditions, just as individuals with physical health conditions are at greater risk for developing a mental health condition. Working closely with primary care professionals allows for both the emotional and physical health of an individual to be addressed simultaneously and provides a higher probability of obtaining a more positive outcome.

What are the most common behavioral health issues you see in patients?

In the setting in which I currently work, I would say that depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma are most common.

How long do you typically treat patients with behavioral health conditions? What do you do if someone needs long-term management or medication?

Firefly Health offers short-term solution-focused therapy with up to seven visits with a behavioral health specialist. If long-term psychotherapy is recommended, we provide a referral to a community psychotherapist. If medication is a consideration, it is recommended that the patient have a conversation with their assigned clinician to discuss options.

What’s one thing you would tell a patient who’s struggling with their mental health?

Anyone can be affected by a mental health condition. Mental health problems are something you experience, they do not define who you are. Behavioral health is just as important as physical health and deserves to receive the appropriate treatment and support, therefore, asking for help is a strength.

Your Firefly care team is here to help

There's no shame in seeking guidance and support to improve your mental health. From medications to supporting changes to your habits and lifestyle, we're here to help you work towards a full recovery. If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, consult with your care team today through the Firefly app. Not a member yet? Get started by signing up below, take our quiz, or call us at (855) 869-9284.

Get started with Firefly Health

Takes 2 minutes   ·   No fees  ·   Cancel anytime