Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reform Law Offers Opportunities for Better Mental Illness Prevention

With implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the horizon, a group of prominent psychiatrists has identified multiple opportunities that the health care reform law provides for improved mental illness prevention and mental health promotion. Several of these opportunities arise in the integrated-care settings that the ACA fosters and for which it provides financial incentives. Writing in the new issue of Psychiatric Services, members of the Prevention Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) say that as a result of the ACA's twin focuses on integrated care and illness prevention, "psychiatry is in a position to advance the goal of prevention of mental illnesses and promotion of emotional and mental well-being." However for this to occur, psychiatrists "must strive to incorporate behavioral health promotion and prevention into these integrated care initiatives" through, for example, ensuring that mental health screening, such as with the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire is an integral part of primary care visits, that brief interventions and referrals for substance abuse treatment are available, and that physicians discuss firearm safety with patients.

Among opportunities for psychiatrists opened up by the ACA, the committee points out, are collaborations with primary care on "culturally and developmentally sensitive methods of screening for risk factors and adverse health behaviors, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and firearm ownership." In addition, "using a developmental perspective, psychiatrists could provide primary care–based interventions focused on enhancing strengths and protective factors among young people and their parents."

Read more about the recommendations of the GAP Prevention Committee in Psychiatric Services. Also see Psychiatric News for reports on psychiatry and collaborative care.

(image: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com)


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