Mental ill-health is a leading cause of disability and most people with mental health problems approach their primary care doctors for help. One in four consultations in primary care is mainly due to mental health related issues. Yet mental health hasn’t received due attention so far in primary care setting.
The main challenges in taking mental health services at primary care level include limited mental health specialists, low priority given to mental health, Inadequate training and skills of primary care workforce, Inadequate specialists’ support to primary care workers as well as negative attitude and stigma towards metal illness. Investing in work force’s training and education in identifying and managing mental disorders at primary care is the only way forward to address the huge treatment gap exists for mental illness. The use of technology and computers may assist this process further. An example is use of a pragmatic computer assisted diagnostic and treatment tool such as GMHAT/PC. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to change their mind-set to work differently by supporting primary care workers, spending more time in training front line workers and taking some leadership in keeping the mental health agenda high up in policy makers’ list.
Vimal Kumar Sharma