In her blog post from just before this year’s State of the Union, NIAC member Kavita Patel, MD, MSHS talks about the importance of addressing mental health in the national discussion. She declares that due to laws that require mental health professionals to report to authorities the names of those who could harm themselves or others, recent efforts to expand access to mental health facilities and raise standards of mental health services should be approached with caution. These laws may only increase stigma and barriers to seeking mental health treatment. Dr. Patel asserts that truly integrating behavioral and mental health services in other aspects of care such as primary care will be more effective. Thus, the president will have to balance the need for immediate action with the need for effective evidence-based mental health models that can transform care. Discussions of mental health should therefore be approached with a critical eye and influenced by perspectives from public health and other social determinants of health and primary care.
Read Dr. Patel’s blog post: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2013/02/08-discuss-mental-health-sotu-patel