Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Primary Care Physicians Training Inadequate in Mental Health

“Primary Care clinicians are not fully trained to diagnose or treat mental health problems, yet people with these conditions typically are seen in primary care more than any other setting,” so says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a recent issue of Research Activities, a publication of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The practice of underqualified physicians diagnosing and treating people without integrating mental health professionals into the process, is resulting in depression and other mental health problems being misdiagnosed or inadequately treated and inappropriate psychotropic drugs being prescribed with little follow-up.

The article goes on to say that the “training in mental health for primary care physicians is very superficial and not very deep…and they don’t know what to do if anything goes wrong.” There are presently major barriers to integration of mental health in the primary care setting, such as reimbursement problems and a fragmented workforce. Research is showing, however, that wherever a team approach is utilized, costs go down and patients get better.

Overall, integrated health care seems better for everyone.

Makes sense to this companion… an integrated approach seems the best way. Any thoughts?

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