Priority: Integrate mental and behavioral health care into primary care and other health-care services
Stress-related symptoms account for two-thirds of visits to family physicians, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. And more than a third of Americans in a recent APA poll reported that they have had an illness caused primarily by stress.
Integrated care brings together health-care teams who can treat the whole person. Instead of working separately, physicians, psychologists, nurses and other providers collaborate. They work together to diagnose patients' problems, plan and provide treatment and evaluate whether that treatment is effective.
Evidence suggests that integrating psychological care with primary care and other services can enhance patients' access to services, improve the quality of their care and lower overall health-care costs.
Integrating psychologists into health-care teams can improve patients' health:
- Cardiovascular disease. Combining stress management, medical treatment and exercise doesn't just reduce depression and distress in heart patients. According to a 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association study, it also improves endothelial function and other measures of arterial health.
- Sleep disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is
more effective than sleeping pills, found a 2004 study
in the Archives of Internal Medicine.