Millions of people around the world are affected with mental disorders,
which are linked fundamentally with a number of chronic ailments such
as cancer, heart disease and AIDS.
Mental disorders affect about 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older in a given year. Often requiring treatment with pharmaceutical drugs
many a times these disorders are detected and treated in time, on other
occasions however, they go undetected and result in a substantial
burden to patients, families and communities.
Citing many benefits, a recent WHO publication
titled “Integrating mental health into primary health care: a global
perspective,” suggested integration of mental health services with
primary care. The report also provides advice on how primary care can
be scaled up and implement such an integration. The following are some
of the justifications supporting integration of mental health and
- The heavy burden of mental disorders: Mental disorders
aren't confined to a geographical territory, they are a challenge to
populations around the world. Not only do they impair the affected
individual, but also pose economical hardships on the family and the
- Mental and physical health are interdependent: A number
patients are afflicted with mental health problems as well as physical
problems at the same time. Further, physical health issues can
sometimes affect mental health too. Hence, integrated primary care
services will enable treatment in a holistic manner, addressing
physical disorders when they surface and at the same time prescribing central nervous system drugs for mental disorders, as and when needed.
- It will increase access to mental health care: There's a
huge difference between the prevalence of mental disorders, and the
number of people getting treatment for these. This is true for all
countries. An integration between mental and primary care will decrease
this gap. This is so because people would be able to seek mental health
services close to their homes, and this will also allow them to keep
their families together without disturbing their daily activities.
- It will make mental healthcare affordable: This is so
because primary care services for mental health are less costly than
psychiatric hospitals. Also, patients will be able to curtail indirect
costs that go along with finding specialist care in distant locations.
- Good health outcomes ensue with primary care for mental health: A
greater number of patients treated for mental disorders in primary
healthcare lead to good outcomes, especially when the healthcare
provided is linked to a network of services at secondary level and
within the community.
- It will promote respect of human rights: Primary
healthcare mental health services can play a major role in diluting the
stigma and discrimination linked to psychiatric illnesses. In addition
it will even decrease the risk of human rights violations occurring in
psychiatric healthcare facilities.
Many countries around the world already have "primary care for mental
health" programs underway, some of these include Argentina, Australia,
Belize, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the UK. With so many benefits of an
integration, mental healthcare services rendered by the medical industry
should improve a lot with an integration.