In the new Harvard Medical School (HMS) Center for Primary Care blog, Prime Time, Dr. Russell Phillips, William Applebaum Professor of Medicine at HMS and Director for the Center, states that recent tragedies have shed light on the United States’ broken mental health system. He believes, however, that the recent expansion of access to primary care, as well as its restructuring can improve mental health care. He says:
“Primary care providers are patients' first and most frequent points of contact but often lack the resources to address mental health issues, despite the reality that more than 70 percent of primary care visits are related to psychosocial issues. Specialist mental health providers are a scarce resource and access is difficult for many struggling patients and primary care teams.”
Innovations that can link psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to primary care are much needed. For instance, the patient-centered medical home incorporates care teams that consist of social workers in primary care. Studies show that positive outcomes such as improved health, reduced burn-out among primary care providers, and reduced health care costs result from integrating mental health care into primary care.
Read Dr. Phillips’ blog post: https://primarycare.hms.harvard.edu/prime-time/2013/03/11/mental-health-primary-care