Integrating physical and mental health services improves health outcomes
and consumer satisfaction and promotes efficiency in health care
That's the message in a new report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health
Law titled "Get It Together: How to Integrate Physical and Mental Health
Care for People With Serious Mental Disorders."
"The wall between physical and mental health care perpetuates a
public health crisis," said Chris Koyanagi, author of the report and
policy director at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, an advocacy group
for people with mental disabilities based in Washington, D.C.
"The lack of integration can leave chronic medical conditions
undetected and lead to higher health care costs and needless suffering,"
The Bazelon Center report lists barriers to integration of services and
outlines four models for integration in programs around the country. These
The first three are cited as models to integrate care for people with
serious mental illness. The fourth, co-location, is best used for integration
of services to consumers with mild to moderate mental illnesses; these people
are seen mostly in primary care settings, according to the report.
The report also spells out policy initiatives for service delivery,
financing, monitoring, and quality assurance that public health and mental
health systems can adopt to nurture integration of services through each of
Among the recommended initiatives are
APA President-elect Steven Sharfstein, M.D., said the report underscores
what psychiatrists have long known.
"Mind and body are one," he said. "Psychiatric physicians
have always known that it is essential to bring mental disorders and other
medical conditions together in primary care, the acute hospital, and across
"The Bazelon Center report has it right," Sharfstein said."
An essential step in integrating mental disorders with all medical
conditions is parity of insurance coverage. Another is bringing mental health
specialists together with medical and surgical specialists. Integrating
substance use disorders with all other mental disorders is another urgent
priority. We have a long way to go."
An executive summary of "Get It Together" is posted
The full report can be purchased online at<http://store.bazelon.org>.▪