Many young adults have more regular interactions with primary care physicians or emergency department doctors than with mental health professionals. Young adults may also be unsure what they are struggling with, how to talk about their mental health, and where to look for help. Even when people reach out for mental health help, they often experience long wait times before accessing care. Integrating mental health services into physical health services can make it easier to meet young adults’ needs. Then, it will be more likely that someone with a mental health issue will receive timely and effective treatment.
Growing up, Carissa always felt like she didn’t belong as an Indian American woman and needed a doctor who understood her culturally.
Mental Health in Primary Care Also Saves Money
Linking physical health services and mental health services can also lower costs for those who are experiencing both physical and mental health problems by reducing the number of times a person needs to seek care, and by identifying any potential problems before they become so serious that more extensive, expensive care becomes necessary.
Strategies for Better Mental Health Treatment:
- Train doctors to screen for mental health concerns and connect patients to treatment options.
Provide access to peer specialists and other healthcare navigators to support those identified as having or at risk for mental health challenges to help them access and engage in relevant mental health care and community-based resources.
- Make sure mental health issues can be quickly identified in hospitals and emergency departments.
- Expand and enforce “parity” laws. These laws require that health insurance companies treat mental health care the same as physical health care. This would facilitate a more seamless integration of mental and physical health services.
How are you feeling after reading this?
33% wait more than a week to access a mental health clinician. [source]
1/3 of hospital stays are now related to mental health diagnoses. [source]
88% of Latino children and youth have unmet mental health needs, compared to 77% African American youth and 76% White youth. [source]
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