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Your primary doctor & mental health

Your primary care physician (PCP) is in your corner to talk over anything going on with your health. That includes your mental health. Not sure how to get started? These tips can help.

Your PCP can guide you in the right direction

If you have an established relationship with your doctor, fantastic! It’s a great first step. Your primary care physician is that one point person who gets to know you and your health needs. They can listen to your concerns. Connect you to mental health specialists. Even get you started on treatment.

How to choose a PCP that fits your needs

How to choose a PCP that fits your needs

Don’t have a PCP or an established relationship with one? It might be a good time to connect with a local practice. It's important to find someone you’re comfortable with.

Some tips to keep in mind when choosing a PCP: 

  • It’s OK to look for someone who is of the same gender or cultural background. You might find that will support you in your own health goals.
  •  Be prepared with questions when you call the office. For example:  
    • How much experience does this provider have with mental health?  
    • Does the clinic have mental health services in-house? Or, do they have a trusted provider they refer to?
  •  Look for a provider whose schedule fits your own as best as possible.
  •  Don’t rule out a virtual provider. You might find the right fit online rather than in person.

When you’re ready to find a primary doctor, we’re here to help. Simply log in to your member website and use our provider search tool.

How to talk to your PCP about mental health

Now that you’ve chosen your PCP, you can use this checklist. It will help you prepare for a helpful, in-depth conversation about your mental well-being. 


Fill out all the forms your doctor requests.
Some are screening forms for depression and anxiety. So, you’ll want to answer them thoroughly, and honestly.

Consider using screening tools before your appointment.
Here is a link for a depression screening tool and an anxiety screening tool.  You can bring the results with you.

Write down your concerns ahead of time.
Detail as much as you can about what you’re feeling without judgment or assumptions. Be sure to write down your questions, too. It’s easy to forget them in a busy doctor’s office. And it’s not always easy to get answers once you leave.

Prepare a list of your medications, and how often you take them.
Remember to detail over-the-counter medicine and supplements as well.

Learn your family history for mental health issues.
Ask your family if anyone has been a worrier or got sad often. Or if anyone has ever harmed themselves or tried to.

Bring a trusted friend or family member with you.
They can serve as an observer of how you’ve been doing. They can also take notes on your doctor’s recommendations.

Go into your appointment with an open mind. There are many causes of mental health issues. And there are many treatments for those causes.

Legal notices

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

This material is for information only. Health information programs provide general health information and are not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a physician or other health care professional. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change.

Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations.

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