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Importance of Integrated Care Highlighted in International Report

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

In a report released today, World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), international experts, including NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth,  have called for a more comprehensive, recovery-based approach towards the management and care of people living with schizophrenia, enabling them to be better integrated into their communities.

The report Schizophrenia: Time to Commit to Change  reaches three evidence-based conclusions:

  • The likelihood of a good outcome for people with schizophrenia has improved in recent decades. With appropriate management, many people affected by the condition can now achieve an acceptable quality of life.
  • A modern approach to schizophrenia management should aim to move individuals along a pathway towards recovery of normal function, as well as to alleviate distressing symptoms.
  • Driving further change toward a more positive outlook for schizophrenia requires fundamental policy modification.

The 50-page report’s recommendations include a call for national and local policy makers to make all aspects of treating and managing schizophrenia a priority in financing and developing programs.
“The report is worth close study,” said Duckworth. “It is sweeping in detail, including shifts in treatment, definitions of recovery and policy recommendations.”

Global Numbers

The report comes at a time when the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted a mental health action plan that seeks to increase mental health service coverage 20 percent by 2020.

Globally, at least 26 million people live with schizophrenia worldwide. In the United States, the number is 2.6 million—representing 1 percent of the nation’s adult population, as well as world prevalence.  The condition is one of the top 10 causes of disability worldwide.

Integration of Care

The report focuses especially on the need for all persons working with individuals living with schizophrenia—health care professionals working in hospital and the community settings, social care professionals, families and advocacy groups and their families—to work more closely and consistently to ensure the highest quality of services and support.

“We conducted a number of in-depth discussions among all those involved in the management of people living with schizophrenia and it became increasingly evident that there was a lack of provision of integrated care,” commented the chair of the report’s policy group, Professor Wolfgang Fleischhacker of Medical University Innsbruck, Austria.

“As there is sound scientific evidence that such interventions are very effective, the key recommendation of our report is that policy frameworks need to be put in place at both national and local levels to ensure that a more integrated approach is taken.”

World Mental Health Day

“I welcome the publication of this report on World Mental Health Day, which we have held every year since 1992 with the aim of raising awareness and understanding of mental health issues globally,” said Deborah Wan, Immediate Past President of the World Federation for Mental Health and a member of the group that authored the report.

“It highlights the challenges faced by people living with schizophrenia and recommends the policy change required to ensure that they maintain an active role within the community.”

World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 coincides with Mental Illness Awareness Week in the United States, Oct. 6-12.

On Nov.5, the report will be presented and debated at the meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-Being and Brain Disorders.

Organizations that have endorsed the report include:

  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association
  • European Brain Council
  • European Federation of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI)
  • Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks—Europe
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Council for Behavioural Health
  • Vinfen
  • World Federation of Mental Health

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