Transforming Mental Health Care at the Interface with General Medicine

Report for the President's Commission

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 57, no. 1, Jan. 2006, p. 37-47

Posted on on December 31, 2005

by Jurgen Unutzer, Michael Schoenbaum, Benjamin Druss, Wayne J. Katon

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This paper is based on a report commissioned by the Subcommittee on Mental Health Interface With General Medicine of the Presidents New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Although mental and medical conditions are highly interconnected, medical and mental health care systems are separated in many ways that inhibit effective care. Treatable mental or medical illnesses are often not detected or diagnosed properly, and effective services are often not provided. Improved mental health care at the interface of general medicine and mental health requires educated consumers and providers; effective detection, diagnosis, and monitoring of common mental disorders; valid performance criteria for care at the interface of general medicine and mental health; care management protocols that match treatment intensity to clinical outcomes; effective specialty mental health support for general medical providers; and financing mechanisms for evidence-based models of care. Successful models exist for improving the collaboration between medical and mental health providers. Recommendations are presented for achieving high-quality care for common mental disorders at the interface of general medicine and mental health and for overcoming barriers and facilitating use of evidence-based quality improvement models.

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