Systematic screening is essential to identify the full range of patient needs, especially those that are hard to describe, such as mental health issues. Debbie Cohen, Ph.D., who served on the Academy project team, discusses the advantages of standardized mental health screening within integrated primary care. Although patients are now more aware of the importance of regular preventive screenings (e.g., mammograms, colonoscopies), they are often reluctant to discuss depressive or anxiety symptoms due to stigma.
Mental health screenings serve several purposes within integrated practices: (1) identification of patients’ mental health needs, and (2) a routine, consistent, and brief method of measurement and assessment for medical professionals to perform during their busy workday. Regular screening directly contributes to improved treatment referral and, therefore, patient satisfaction and outcomes.