Seven good reasons for integrating mental health into primary care

  1. The burden of mental disorders is great. Mental disorders are prevalent in all societies. They create a substantial personal burden for affected individuals and their families, and they produce significant economic and social hardships that affect society as a whole.
  2. Mental and physical health problems are interwoven. Many people suffer from both physical and mental health problems. Integrated primary care services help ensure that people are treated in a holistic manner, meeting the mental health needs of people with physical disorders, as well as the physical health needs of people with mental disorders.
  3. The treatment gap for mental disorders is enormous. In all countries, there is a significant gap between the prevalence of mental disorders, on one hand, and the number of people receiving treatment and care, on the other hand. Primary care for mental health helps close this gap.
  4. Primary care for mental health enhances access. When mental health is integrated into primary care, people can access mental health services closer to their homes, thus keeping their families together and maintaining their daily activities. Primary care for mental health also facilitates community outreach and mental health promotion, as well as long-term monitoring and management of affected individuals.
  5. Primary care for mental health promotes respect of human rights. Mental health services delivered in primary care minimize stigma and discrimination. They also remove the risk of human rights violations that can occur in psychiatric hospitals.
  6. Primary care for mental health is affordable and cost effective. Primary care services for mental health are less expensive than psychiatric hospitals, for patients, communities and governments alike. In addition, patients and families avoid indirect costs associated with seeking specialist care in distant locations. Treatment of common mental disorders is cost effective, and investments by governments can bring important benefits.
  7. Primary care for mental health generates good health outcomes. The majority of people with mental disorders treated in primary care have good outcomes, particularly when linked to a network of services at secondary level and in the community.

Original World Health Organization link below:

http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/Mental%20health%20+%20primary%20care-%20final%20low-res%20120109.pdf