Fitting mental health into a primary care practice does bring challenges, mainly time. Primary care physicians are already squeezing patients in, sometimes for only 12–15 minutes at a time.
"We need much more capacity in our healthcare system for mental health to work," says Molly Cooke, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians, who last week renewed its advocacy for treating gun-related violence and deaths as a threat to public health.
Cooke, who is a general internist, says she is used to screening for depression, but with more people coming into the healthcare system through the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, the ability to provide some mental healthcare to patients will get even more "challenging."
Removing the shame that comes with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions could help patients adhere to medication and other treatments. It's an unexpected benefit that in addition to treating the disease, doctors can also help ease its stigma.