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Filling the Demand for Mental Health Specialists

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 4, 2010

"Psychiatry continues to play a minimal role in medical training years," he says. "And the end result is that even though a good proportion of people who will be seen in these settings have mental health conditions, doctors often aren't trained to identify and deal appropriately with them."

Aguilar-Gaxiola says that care often suffers because the health system is "so fragmented. Patients are seen in one place by one provider for their physical problems, but they're seen in another place by another provider for their psychological problems."

And while health reform will prompt many more patients to seek care, he thinks that federal provisions that emphasize the creation of more integrated models "will allow us to move more decisively and effectively" into delivering care that treats both physical and mental diseases and disorders in the same place, at the same time.

Let's hope he's right.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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