Q&A with Dr. Herbert White

Dr Herbert WhiteLast fall, Dr. Herbert White joined the MMC family as the newest psychiatrist in Behavioral Health Services. He primarily works with our Inpatient Behavioral Health Services patients. Here, he offers a little more information about himself and his role in the healing process.

What brings you to Ashland?
I’m here because I want to work with the Behavioral Health team. I’ve been practicing in Rhinelander and acquired a great deal of respect for the Behavioral Health team in Ashland. They have a long history in Ashland addressing the Behavioral Health needs of this area so I’m excited to be a part of that process now.

What are your areas of interest?
In general psychiatry, I have a somewhat focused interest in mood disorders and various chemical addictions. A close third would be psychotic disorders.

What information should patients always have with them?
It is really important that patients always carry a list of current medications. This includes not just psychiatric medications but all medications. In addition, be sure to share any change in both your physical and mental health since your last appointment. The two really are connected.

What can a patient expect from you during their first visit?
I want people to tell me a story. A story of what brings them to see me at that time in their life. And so, I really begin with a conversation. By the end of the first meeting, I hope to have some understanding of this person. And what’s happening in their life today so I can understand my role in helping them.

What should patients be asking you?

They should always ask me to the extent of my treatment plan, how does this apply to them? In other words, I do have an expectation that the patient and I will become a team and to the best of their ability, they will bring whatever understanding of what they have about themselves and their condition to the appointment so we can work together.

What is one of the largest misconceptions about your patients?
I think that the thing that comes to mind is Rodney King and the saying, can’t we all get along. There is a lot of wisdom in that. What I mean by that, we all relate to people that are important in our lives but yet conflict develops or our understanding of the world is different from them. Part of my job is to try and help people with their understanding and perception. In other words, whether it is a problem in communication or understanding, people with thought disorders have an awful lot going on in their mind that interferes with their thinking. People with mood disorders have very unstable moods and they misinterpret themselves and also others in their environment. My job is to try and help sort that out.

Sometimes medicine plays a role in that. This is the first time you’ve heard me use the word medicine. We prescribe a lot of medicines because it is helpful. We don’t make incisions. We don’t use stitches. We may prescribe medicine or we may talk to people about the natural holistic ways of healing. So that’s another part of our job to understand our patients and what has been successful ways for them to deal with life situations and how can we build on that so that they use their own strategies.