The time has come to embrace mental and physical health integration.
Traditional medicine has primarily focused on what we can do to mitigate or cure illnesses, while doing very little to prevent illness or support health. It has become increasingly obvious that an overall failure to implement genetics, environment and lifestyle into patient care is costing the health systems huge amounts of money.
It is imperative that healthcare providers
recognize the role each of these factors
can play in the generation of such chronic
illnesses as diabetes, hypertension,
cardiovascular disease, asthma and cancer. The vast majority of our nation’s healthcare spending is on people suffering from a chronic illness.
The cost of surgeries, drugs and hospital visits now has to be diverted toward improving the education, the lifestyle and the enrollment of the people whose health we wish to preserve.
In the coming weeks, Federation will take steps to address this issue head on. Recognizing how intertwined physical health and mental health are, Federation will introduce a primary care program at one of its mental health programs, the Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program in Patchogue.
When you look at the people unfortunate enough to develop mental illness, you see that overall, they have a higher incidence of physical illnesses. There are a number of contributing factors to this.
One is that the vast majority of people who have mental illnesses suffer some form of anxiety, and the most common coping mechanism they use to quell that anxiety is smoking cigarettes and/or marijuana. Right there is a direct link to heart disease, to hypertension and to lung disease.
Secondly, many people suffering from mental illness tend to neglect themselves and avoid seeking medical and preventative care. Also, they tend to live more on the edges of poverty, so their diets generally lack proper nutrition.
What Federation believes needs to be done is to bring a team of primary care givers into the setting where their mental health is being addressed. Primary care becomes harder to avoid. The mental health provider can take them down the hall and introduce them to a primary care doctor, instead of suggesting their patients seek out primary care in a separate location.
The other approach is to fold in mental illness and substance abuse treatment into primary care clinics, particularly in federally quali ed healthcare centers. Primary care physicians are realizing that the mental health of their patients impacts the outcomes of treating the physical illness.
Bringing a primary care team to our PROS program is in line with the mission of Federation of Organizations: Helping people to help themselves. I am con dent our proactive approach will make a difference.