ACA Offers 'Golden Opportunity' for Mental Illness Prevention

Pam Harrison

December 04, 2012

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will create increased opportunity for mental illness prevention and mental health promotion in the primary care setting.

Writing in the December issue of Psychiatric Services, members of the Prevention Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, led by Ruth Shim, MD, MPH, note that provisions of the ACA will shift the US healthcare system to address achieving wellness rather than just treating illness by including improved coverage of preventive services and incentives to integrate and coordinate primary care, mental healthcare, and addiction services, and through the establishment of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which has developed a National Prevention Strategy.

This new national strategy includes recommendations to promote positive early childhood development and facilitate social connectedness.

There are also recommendations to provide families and individuals with the support they need to maintain well-being and to promote early identification of mental health needs as well as access to services.

There is also a shift toward team-based care of patients and an emphasis on the importance of patient-centered medical homes.

"Many psychiatrists have not worked in collaborative care settings or fulfilled a prevention role in mental health care delivery. However, the changing health care environment may well encourage this seemingly new role in novel settings. Many opportunities exist for psychiatrists to partner with primary care providers in this new role," they write.

Dr. Shim and coauthors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Psychiatr Serv. 2012;63:1231-1233. Abstract