Rethinking the mental health treatment skills of primary care staff: a framework for training and research

Adm Policy Ment Health. 2012 Nov;39(6):489-502. doi: 10.1007/s10488-011-0373-9.


Health care reforms may offer several opportunities to build the mental health treatment capacity of primary care. Capitalizing on these opportunities requires identifying the types of clinical skills that the primary care team requires to deliver mental health care. This paper proposes a framework that describes mental health skills for primary care receptionists, medical assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians. These skills are organized on three levels: cross-cutting skills to build therapeutic alliance; broad-based, brief interventions for major clusters of mental health symptoms; and evidence-based interventions for diagnosis specific disorders. This framework is intended to help inform future mental health training in primary care and catalyze research that examines the impact of such training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Primary Care Nursing / methods
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration