Addressing mental health issues in primary care: an initial curriculum for medical residents

Patient Educ Couns. 2014 Jan;94(1):33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.09.010. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Objective: Many express concern that modern medicine fails to provide adequate psychosocial and mental health care. Our educational system has not trained the primary care providers who care for most of these patients. Our objective here is to propose a quantum change: prepare residents and students during all years of training so that they are as effective in treating psychosocial and mental health issues as they are medical problems.

Method: We operationalize this objective, following Kern, by developing an intensive 3-year curriculum in psychosocial and mental health care for medical residents based on models with a strong evidence-base.

Results: We report an intensive curriculum that can guide others with similar training interests and also initiate the conversation about how best to prepare residency graduates to provide effective mental health and psychosocial care.

Conclusion: Identifying specific curricula informs education policy-makers of the specific requirements they will need to meet if psychosocial and mental health training are to improve.

Practice implications: Training residents in mental health will lead to improved care for this very prevalent primary care population.

Keywords: Biopsychosocial training; Curriculum; Mental health training; Residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Medicine / education
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum*
  • General Practice / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Mental Health*
  • Models, Educational
  • Primary Health Care*