Depression is one of the most common and most disabling psychiatric disorders; it was the fourth highest cause of disability and death worldwide in 1990, and is expected to move into second place by 2020. Although effective treatments for depression exist, most people with depression are reluctant to see a mental health specialist. Instead, they are seen in primary care settings, where they may present a range of emotional and physical complaints. While most physicians feel they have a responsibility to recognize depression, many are unsure of their ability to diagnose and treat it. Improving that picture hasn’t been a priority in the medical community or in federal agencies.
Recognizing the importance of the problem, the Foundation launched the Initiative on Depression in Primary Care. Its charge is to enhance the quality of care and outcomes for patients with depressive disorders who are seen in primary care practices. The work of the Initiative has become an important model of how to influence the delivery of mental health services to narrow the gap between knowledge and practice and improve access to high quality care.
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