Study: Family physicians and mental health

A new policy brief from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine highlights the critical role family physicians could–and should–play in the delivery of mental health care, particularly in under served urban and rural communities. The authors analyzed demographic data from the American Board of Family Medicine for the years 2007 through 2009 for trends in mental health care delivery and the availability of psychiatrists in rural areas.

They found that family physicians often addressed their patients’ mental health needs in the rural areas where psychiatrists per capita drops dramatically. Unfortunately, the authors note, these physicians still face a wealth of obstacles such as insurance battles, low reimbursement rates and the universal issue of time constraints.  

Family physicians are well-positioned to fill the gaps in access to mental health care, but there must be a shift in policy to better support physicians in this role, the authors argue.

The report appeared in the March-April issue.

Learn more about Polaris’s systems for mental health and substance abuse screening, assessment and referral to treatment for primary health care settings: Polaris Medical and DARSSA/STaRS.