Smyrna-Based Reform Psychiatry Stresses Patient Comfort

Written by Journey Pure Staff

Walk into the front office of Reform Psychiatry in Smyrna, Tenn., and you‘ll find a waiting room that looks more like the cozy den of the world’s greatest optimist, what with the plush furniture, scores of knickknacks, and a dozen or so pillows, many of them displaying inspirational messages like “Choose happiness.”

“It doesn’t look like your typical outpatient mental health clinic,” said Jemima Mensah, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, clinical director and founder of Reform Psychiatry. “I want to give people a homey sense when they come to see me.”

Located along Nissan Drive, not far from the Smyrna Airport, Reform Psychiatry opened just this month. Mensah said that the clinic already has 40 clients on its books, not including a handful of cases she handles on a pro bono basis.

“Right now we’re mostly self-pay, which is restricting since not everyone can afford to pay out-of-pocket” Mensah said. “We’ve signed contracts with most of the big ones—Aetna, United, Beacon, BlueCross BlueShield [of Tennessee]. Now we’re just waiting for a start date.”

Reform and Co-Occurring Disorders

Mensah said that the vast majority of her clients exhibit co-occurring disorders. This means they live with one or more mental health disorders. Common examples of co-occurring disorders are depression combined with a substance use disorder such as cocaine addiction, or schizophrenia combined with a substance use disorder like addiction to methamphetamine.

Also known as “dual diagnosis,” co-occurring disorders require an integrated treatment approach. This means  both disorders are treated simultaneously, instead one after the other. Perhaps not surprisingly, such an approach can be tricky.

“I’d say about 90 percent of my clients are dual diagnosis,” Mensah said. “They often come in with their chief complaint being a mental issue like depression or anger. Then you dig in a little bit and find some serious substance abuse. Of course, if you interview them well, they eventually open up.”

The Use of Medication

Mensah said that while the treatment of substance use disorders is of special interest to her personally—some members of her family have histories with substance abuse—she has no problem prescribing medication, if the treatment requires it.

“I’m a fan of using medication in conjunction with psychotherapy,” Mensah said. “All the research indicates that they work better together. I’m always looking for ways to make the patient as comfortable as possible.”

Reform Psychiatry is located at 433 Nissan Dr, Suite 301 in Smryna. The phone number is 615-751-0347.

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