Physical & Mental Health Integration

Physical & Mental Health Integration

Where We Stand

NAMI believes that all people with mental health conditions deserve accessible, affordable, and comprehensive health care. NAMI supports coordinated care models that integrate physical and mental health services.

Why We Care

Millions of people in the U.S. have both a physical and a mental health or substance use condition. However, our health care system often separates physical health treatment from mental health care. This creates a fragmented system that leads to poor health outcomes.

Integrated health care has the potential to help people address their mental health needs in a primary care setting. By bringing doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists together, integrated care can normalize and de-stigmatize mental health treatment. It also ensures that all health needs are addressed holistically, leading to better treatment and quality of life.

Integrated health care also has the potential to help address the physical health needs of people with mental illness. People with serious mental illness die earlier than the general population, but the vast majority of these deaths are due to chronic physical medical conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases, diabetes, and hypertension.

We need an integrated system that uses person-centered care: where individuals participate and engage in their treatment with their health care providers, and those providers respect their wants, needs and preferences. Reducing the fragmentation between behavioral and physical health services can produce better health outcomes for both physical and behavioral health diagnosis.

How We Talk About It

  • One in five adults has a mental health condition. Many adults with a mental illness also have at least one physical health condition.
  • Unfortunately, our health care system often separates physical health treatment from mental health care — leading to worse outcomes for people who live with multiple conditions.
  • Integrating physical and mental health care improves outcomes and reduces stigma. By integrating health care treatment, people get the care they need, when they need it.
  • Without integrated care, people can experience many challenges navigating two separate health care systems.
  • People may hesitate to seek care from a primary care provider for their mental health needs, which unnecessarily delays treatment for their mental health condition.
  • Sadly, without integration of care, people with mental health conditions are also less likely to get preventive services, and the treatment they need, for their physical health conditions.
  • There are many ways to integrate physical and mental health care. Treatment services can be offered in the same physical location, or health care providers who aren’t located in the same place can use shared treatment plans.
  • Regardless of the method used, integrating care can improve early intervention, ensure that providers treat co-occurring physical conditions, reduce stigma and, in some cases, save lives.
 

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