Top Docs: Profiles

Meet 11 of our 2007 Top Doctors.

October 2007

Dr. Jean Milofsky

Kaiser Permanente Highline Clinic, St. Joseph, Lutheran, Good Samaritan—Practicing for 25 years

Colorado Statistic According to Mental Health America of Colorado, the state has the seventh highest rate of suicide in the nation.

"No one really knows why our incidence is so high, although there is a lot of speculation. First of all, Western states have higher rates of suicide than Eastern states in general. In Colorado, one factor may be the great transience of our population. People moving in and out, never staying in one place, not living 'at home.' People in Colorado often are disconnected from their families. They have no long-term roots in a community. People often come here to get away or drop off the grid for a while. The wide-open spaces of the West provide a sort of anonymity you don't see elsewhere. And sometimes being faceless and anonymous could give a person already so inclined permission to commit suicide. People tell themselves that 'no one would miss me anyway,' or 'no one would even notice that I'm gone.'

The other issue contributing to the high rate of suicide here could be poor access to care. Access to mental health treatment is very limited in the rural communities on the Western Slope. In fact, a few weeks ago I spoke with the only psychiatrist in Gunnison County. The other issue with access is navigating the system. If you have a mole on your arm that needs attention, you know who to call. But people don't know what to do when they need mental health care. Even some general practitioners don't have a very good network for sending people to get help."

Steps in the Right Direction "This year, Colorado enacted better parity laws—laws that require insurance companies to cover certain mental health disorders just as they do physical ailments. Anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, social phobia, and other disorders are included in these laws, which also require that co-pays to visit a therapist will be the same as a doctor visit. It's a good start."

Best Advice "No. 1, acknowledge your vulnerabilities and seek help when you need it; No. 2, maintain good boundaries, meaning know what problems to tackle and which ones to leave alone; No. 3, have a sense of humor; No. 4, try to find joy in everyday life; and No. 5, do not ever take a laptop or BlackBerry on vacation."