May is Mental Health Awareness month and too often mental health gets segmented as though it is separate from our overall health. In this article we dive into how integral mental health is and how it affects our physical and overall well-being. The coronavirus pandemic shined a light on mental health as it was a traumatic experience for people all over the globe and an event that many people are still healing and recovering from. Our minds and bodies are one and even if someone isn’t currently experiencing a mental health crisis, it is important to take preventative steps to increase resilience and maintain strong mental health. I took some time to discuss mental health with Arielle Radin Pulverman, PhD, Co-founder & Co-CEO of Bruin Health, a platform that provides physicians AI clinical support for mental health.


Arielle Radin Pulverman, PhD encourages physicians to integrate mental health into overall health by including behavioral health evaluation as part of annual exams with their patients. It is crucial to normalize mental health and reduce stigma to encourage people to seek care when they need it. According to the American Psychological Association, “as many as 70% of primary care visits are driven by patients’ psychological problems, such as anxiety, panic, depression, and stress.” However, even when primary care providers offer referrals to behavioral health specialists, only 10% of patients will initiate care with providers who are not co-located.


About 70% of people with depression are not diagnosed in the primary care setting. Further, about 90% of suicide victims have some mental health disorder and 40% saw their primary care doctor within a month of their suicide. It’s clear that primary care doctors need more resources to address mental health issues, as many patients will not make it to a behavioral health specialist in times of crisis. In addition to allowing more time with patients to address underlying mental health and behavioral issues, primary care doctors can also leverage tools like Bruin Health’s AI platform to get insights and treatment plans.


Bruin Health is an accessible way for primary care doctors to service the behavioral health needs of their patients without shouldering the burden of attempting to provide care in an area that they don’t have training in. When psychiatrists and psychologists aren’t readily available, or when patients do not wish to speak with another provider, Bruin can fill the gap with comprehensive evaluation, treatment planning, and care navigation. Bruin does this by digitally evaluating the patient at home on their own time. The system then uses AI to reference patient results against a curated clinical knowledge base to select the most appropriate evidence-based treatments for the patient. Bruin Health also helps with finding local, virtual, and digital options for where the patient can access those treatments and helps them understand, navigate, and initiate care.


Young girl meditating art


Even when patients are not currently struggling with depressive or anxiety symptoms, primary care providers can play an impactful role in prevention by helping patients build resilience. Patients need support to gain better coping skills, otherwise they may risk turning to unhealthy coping strategies like substance use or further isolation. While substances may provide temporary relief from mental health conditions, the long-term effects of substances are detrimental such as chronic disease and death, so it is best to avoid misusing substances. Building resilience and having a better outlook can take time, training, and professional guidance.

Physical exercise is also an excellent mental health tool as it releases endorphins and has been shown to have comparably beneficial effects as traditional treatments like psychotherapy and SSRIs for depression. Dr. Radin Pulverman recommends group physical activities to help people socialize, build community and improve their mental health.


Social Connection Health Influence


Positive social connection is paramount to improving and maintaining strong mental health. The U.S. Surgeon General acknowledges the Epidemic of Loneliness and Social Isolation in our nation and developed an Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. Deficient social connection has detrimental health outcomes, so much so that “the mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.” 


Lacking Social Connection


A proactive approach to mental health is beneficial to everyone and working with a primary care provider who has the tools to address any issues that may be under the surface is a great place to start. Direct primary care physicians have the time to build relationships with their patients through value-based care via a membership model. You can find direct primary care physicians in your area via a simple google search and/or the Direct Primary Care Coalition.


If you are a direct primary care physician and want to learn more about Hint’s partner, Bruin Health visit