Low patient engagement, a lack of resources and knowledge, and the need to integrate physical and behavioral health are among challenges to mental health care, panelists said during a recent Capitol Hill briefing organized by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The June 9 briefing on patient-centered mental health research provided an opportunity for an open dialogue about the challenges associated with mental health care, as well as anticipated changes in the field.
Research has shown that as many as 70 percent of primary care visits involve an underlying psychological issue. Expanding preventive treatment options and improving care capacity for these conditions is vital, especially for essential hospitals, which see disproportionately high numbers of mental health cases. As such, health care organizations have begun banding together to create innovative treatment methods.
The briefing aimed to highlight the lack of appropriate treatment that currently exists for mental health conditions and to inspire innovative thinking about potential improvements to such care. The panel consisted of experts from the American Psychiatric Association, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, MoodNetwork, and National Alliance on Mental Illness. Throughout the discussion, many panelists echoed the limits of patient autonomy and involvement in care decisions. In addition, attendees noted that one of the greatest challenges to providing mental health care is a lack of resources and knowledge — the patient and provider often are limited in the services they can access to treat mental health conditions.
To increase patient engagement in care decisions, PCORI has contributed to the development of MoodNetwork, a program designed to engage individuals dealing with mental illness. By participating in studies, patients are able to experiment with a variety of treatment options. This tool provides the patient with a voice, enabling them to describe their own experience and contribute to the future of research.
Every panelist also recognized the importance of personalized, well-rounded care. Michael Thompson, president of the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH), emphasized the opportunity to address social determinants of health in treatment plans.
Meanwhile, essential hospitals are employing their own strategies for improving mental health. Many have recognized that a more proactive health care system will decrease costs and provide individuals with a better patient-provider experience. As such, members of America’s Essential Hospitals are making strides to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and promote early screening and treatment options.