The challenge of integrated care for mental health: leaving the 50 minute hour and other sacred things

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2009 Mar;16(1):40-6. doi: 10.1007/s10880-009-9147-x. Epub 2009 Jan 31.


A growing body of research has demonstrated the effectiveness of integrating mental/behavioral healthcare with primary care in improving health outcomes. Despite this rich literature, such demonstration programs have proven difficult to maintain once research funding ends. Much of the discussion regarding maintenance of integrated care has been focused on lack of reimbursement. However, provider factors may be just as important, because integrated care systems require providers to adopt a very different role and operate very differently from traditional mental health practice. There is also great variability in definition and operationalization of integrated care. Provider concerns tend to focus on several factors, including a perceived loss of autonomy, discomfort with the hierarchical nature of medical care and primary care settings, and enduring beliefs about what constitutes "good" treatment. Providers may view integrated care models as delivering substandard care and passively or actively resist them. Dissemination of available data regarding effectiveness of these models is essential (e.g. timeliness of treatment, client satisfaction). Increasing exposure and training in these models, while maintaining the necessary training in traditional mental health care is a challenge for training at all levels, yet the challenge clearly opens new opportunities for psychology and psychiatry.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / economics*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Medicine
  • Mental Health Services / economics*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Reimbursement Mechanisms / economics
  • Specialization
  • United States