Integrative healthcare implies a symbiotic relationship between the physical and mental health and well-being of humans.
Statically, the majority of people who struggle with mental health issues have a co-occurring physical health condition. According to the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrative Health Solutions:
“People with mental and substance abuse disorders may die decades earlier than the average person — mostly from untreated and preventable chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease that are aggravated by poor health habits such as inadequate physical activity, poor nutrition, smoking, and substance abuse.”
Similarly, people suffering from health conditions like heart disease may have undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues that contribute to illness. For example, stress is one of the leading causes of heart disease, but how often are the causes of the stress address and treated?
Typically, mental health professionals aren’t crossed trained to recognize signs and symptoms of physical health conditions, while medical doctors aren’t trained in any great depth to diagnose or treat mental health conditions. This can lead to misdiagnosis and the lack of appropriately applied treatment interventions.
It is critical that medical and mental health professionals work more closely together, and current research findings clearly indicate that a better integration of physical and mental health care services are necessity and can have a positive impact on not only the health and wellbeing of patients, but can also contribute to decreased healthcare costs. Prevention, early detection, and skilled integrative treatment saves the pocketbook, but most importantly this approach saves lives.
American Hospital Association (2012). Bringing behavioral health into the care continuum: Opportunities to improve quality, costs and outcomes. 1-12.
Laderman M. (2015). Behavioral health integration: A key component of the Triple Aim. Population Health Management. 18(5):320-322.
Rakel, D. (2017). Integrative medicine, 4th edition. Elsevier.
Raney, L.E. (2014). Integrated care: Working at the interface of primary and behavioral health care. American Psychiatric Publication.
Talen, M.R. & Valeras, A.B. (2013). Integrated behavioral health in primary care: Evaluating the evidence, identifying the essentials. Springer Science