Care Coordination for Your Best Skin: When a Referral to a Mental Health Specialist is Recommended

Care Coordination for Your Best Skin: When a Referral to a Mental Health Specialist is RecommendedDid you know that skin is the body’s largest organ? Skin plays an important role as a protective covering of the body and can be an indicator of overall health since distress to the skin can indicate concerns both medically and mentally. In addition to the role of protector, the skin helps us produce vitamin D, regulate temperature so we can cool down (via sweating), serve as a defense against infections, and act as a sensory organ (to experience pain, pleasure, pressure, and temperature changes).

When there is a concern related to conditions and treatments of the skin such as acne, dermatitis, or unusual changes to the skin, most people first seek treatment from their primary care doctor or a dermatologist. Skincare specialists including those who work in spas, health and wellness settings, the beauty industry, and cosmetic/ plastic surgeons may be consulted and sought out for concerns and solutions. These professionals offer valuable services to those seeking support for their skincare needs.

It is considered best practice to coordinate care with a mental health specialist when there are indicators that a referral to a therapist is needed. Care coordination is collaboration to address gaps in care that may not occur with providers who are not specifically trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. There are many concerns related to the skin that also show up in the mental health setting. It is important to be familiar with these concerns that may indicate a referral to a mental health specialist is needed.

Adjustment Difficulties

The presence of skin conditions can cause distress at various ages and stages such as acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, rosacea, and vitiligoto name just a few. Emotional and behavioral responses that may be more than expected in response to recent stressors can indicate an adjustment disorder.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are common causes of acne in the teenage years and acne throughout adulthood. Hormonal acne is impacted by fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone; these changes can impact mood such as depression. Medications, antibiotics, diet, mental health triggers, stress, or other factors can contribute. It is estimated that 40% – 50% of adults ages 20-40 have acne on the body, and that acne affects approximately 50% of women ages 20-29, and 25% of women ages 40-49. Menstruation cycles, pregnancy, and menopause are all factors.


Skin conditions can trigger feelings of sadness and depression. Some indicators may include loss of interest in going places or being around others, social isolation and feeling bad about self/ appearance, irritability and frustration, changes in sleep, appetite, and/ or energy levels, negative or suicidal thoughts, and low self-esteem.


Problems related to the skin can create excessive worry, especially related to health and appearance. There may be a fixation on the skin, avoidance of people, places, or situations due to anxiety, panic attacks, and general feelings of insecurity. Social Anxiety involves excessing anxiety and fear in social situations in which humiliation, embarrassment, judgment, and negative evaluation may be present. Physical symptoms such as nausea, sweating, muscle tension as well and avoidance are often experienced in social anxiety disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Related Disorders

Disorders related to obsessive-compulsive disorder such as body dysmorphic disorder, and trichotillomania involve the skin. In body dysmorphia, obsessions about physical “defects” are present, along with compulsions. The individual experiences difficulties in which they can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived flaws in appearance. This may appear minor or not visible to others. Excessive time is often spent on checking and engaging in other compulsions for short-term relief. This may include time-consuming efforts to fix and hide flaws such as numerous visits with skin professionals and cosmetic procedures.  Embarrassment, shame, and avoidance are often heightened.

Excoriation disorder (also known as skin picking or dermatillomania) is also in the obsessive-compulsive category. Excoriation involves repetitive skin picking that leaves damage to the skin and significant distress or impairment of functional areas. Trichotillomania (hair-pulling) results in noticeable hair loss and impacts the health of the skin.

We’d love to collaborate on mental health treatment options available at CARE Counseling.  Click here for our expert care:

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

bounce back

Struggling Amid Celebrations: 4 Signs that Indicate Support is Needed

Holidays can deepen spirituality, honor historical and cultural traditions, increase feelings of belonging/ family-community connection, and celebrate shared values. The holidays can also be triggering for many folks. Even those who feel pretty good physically and emotionally can find that this time of year is more taxing on their mental health. It is important to check in with yourself and pay attention to signs that indicate additional support is needed.
bounce back

Resilience During the Most Wonderful (and Stressful!) Time of the Year

Did you know that December is known as one of the most stressful times of the year? December tests our resilience as the most stressful month of the year.
bounce back

9 Tips for Promoting a Healthy Relationship with Food

Eating is a foundation of wellness and is important as preventative care for mental health conditions such as depression and disordered eating such as bulimia.
bounce back

Awareness of Common Eating Disorders: Highlight on Binge-Eating

It is important to become aware of the warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).
bounce back

What is Your Relationship with Marijuana?

If you are struggling with your relationship with marijuana, now may be a good time to re-evaluate your options and make a lifestyle change.
bounce back

Care Coordination for Your Best Skin: When a Referral to a Mental Health Specialist is Recommended

Did you know that skin is the body’s largest organ? Skin plays an important role as a protective covering of the body and can be an indicator of overall health since distress to the skin can indicate concerns both medically and mentally.
bounce back

Help for When You are Feeling Stuck and Alone: 5 Strategies to Move Forward

If you are at a point where you are feeling stuck in life, there are options even when it feels like you are going nowhere. Imagine you are sitting in a car that is going nowhere. We are going to use this as an analogy of your life.

Kare 11 Features CARE Counseling’s Partnership with the Timberwolves

Kare11 highlighted the official launch of the Minnesota Timberwolves "College Night" presented by CARE Counseling.
reducing caregiver stress

Caregiver Depression

Caretaking for a person with significant health-related needs can take its toll on mental health.
loved ones

Relief for Caretakers: Reducing Risk of Caregiver Stress

We all need a break at times, especially for those balancing multiple roles and lacking time for self-care.

Understanding Parasomnia: Unusual Behaviors During Sleep

A healthcare provider or sleep specialist can diagnose and provide guidance on the most appropriate treatment options.
Prolonged grief

Prolonged Grief and Its Impact on Mental Health

Prioritize self-care practices, such as exercise, meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet, to support physical and emotional well-being.

The Lesser-Known Forms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Understanding these lesser-known forms is essential for mental health professionals.
the psychology of superstitions

The Psychology of Superstitions

Superstitions are fascinating examples of the human mind's ability to cope with uncertainty and unpredictability.
video games

How Video Games Can Impact Your Dreams and Mental Health

The Tetris Effect is a captivating exploration of how video games can influence the human mind.

When Phone Separation Anxiety Takes Hold

Nomophobia, or the fear of being without a mobile device, is a growing concern in our technology-driven world.
Mental health in the elderly

Mental Health in the Elderly

Creating a supportive environment for the elderly is a key element in addressing mental health concerns.
Collaborative care

The Heart of Collaborative Care

Putting patients first through collaborative care is the hallmark of a patient-centric healthcare system.
Collaborative healthcare

5 Key Benefits of Collaborative Care

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, collaborative care is becoming increasingly important.
Psychosis in children

Psychosis in Children: Considerations, Questions, & Resources

While psychotic disorders are not commonly diagnosed in childhood, children exhibit symptoms of psychosis that can be concerning.

Halloween Season of Phobias: Fear of Masks, Halloween, and Clowns

Many of the common phobias such as fears related spiders, darkness, and blood can be triggered by cues around Halloween.

CARE Counseling Recognized as the 9th Fastest Growing Company in Minnesota

CARE Counseling, a leading provider of outpatient mental health services, is proud to announce its recognition as the 9th Fastest Growing Company in Minnesota by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. This prestigious accolade is a testament to CARE's unwavering commitment to providing high-quality mental health support to the people of Minnesota.
bounce back