Mental Illness Awareness Week: Raising Awareness of the Need for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care Services

Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 7 – 13, 2012

In the US the first week of October has been recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week since 1990 when it was established by Congress in recognition of the National Alliance for Mental Illness’s efforts to increase public awareness about mental illness. Mental Illness Awareness Week also coincides with similar organizational campaigns:

There is no doubt that this campaign has been a successful one, raising awareness, encouraging people to screen for depression, and chipping away at the negativity surrounding mental illness. This theme is aligned with the philosophy of behavioral health integration. Therefore, perhaps a day can be designated for recognizing the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care services. When physical health and behavioral health are addressed concurrently, people have better health outcomes and are better satisfied with their healthcare services. Integrated healthcare also offers improved access to services and reduces healthcare costs.

Integration has been referred to as the neck; a means of reconnecting the mind and body. In integrated healthcare, the mind and body are addressed as a whole, rather than compartmentalized. There is a focus on prevention and wellness that promotes improved health outcomes. Across the United States and around the world, behavioral health and primary care providers are transitioning service delivery to a more collaborative approach. The United States Department of Health and Human ServicesSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has invested in nearly 100 initiatives in their Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Integration grants. This commitment demonstrates the importance placed on integrated healthcare by the United States.

Perhaps we can designate each Friday of Mental Illness Awareness Week as National Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration Awareness Day.

What do you think?

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