How can we deliver better mental health care for teens?

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Integrated care – primary care that combines health and mental health services – is an idea that has taken off. Many doctors’ offices and clinics have begun to provide mental health services where you get your medical services.

There are two basic types of integrated care. One involves having a psychologist, or sometimes a clinical social worker, in the primary care office to collect background information on the problem, offer brief counseling and, if needed, a referral to a specialist. This behavioral health consultant sees patients with all kinds of behavioral concerns, from sleep problems to severe mental illness.

Another type of clinic offers collaborative care, in which there is a mental health care manager, a nurse or social worker working with a consulting psychiatrist who routinely speaks with the manager. This is usually focused on patients who have depression or anxiety. Both systems work, but for different patient populations.

A recent article in the Journal of Adolescent Health asked if an integrated clinic is effective for teens who have depression. Are they more likely to be seen in primary care and follow up there for treatment? The study…

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