Mental Illness at Forefront of General Reform of U.S. Health Care System: Institute of Medicine Report

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- New recommendations for reforming the U.S. health care system are bringing mental health issues to the forefront, Ronald Manderscheid, Ph.D., said at a meeting of the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation.

In a follow-up to its March 2001 report on health care reform, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee this year released a list of 20 health care priorities for national action.

Among those priorities are depression and severe mental illness.

Depression also made the top-five list in a report that further narrowed the recommendations on where reform efforts should begin, said Dr. Manderscheid, who is chief of the Survey and Analysis Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services, which is part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The IOM committee based their selections on three criteria: the breadth of impact of the condition on patients, families, and community; the likelihood that large gaps in the quality of care for the condition can be closed; and inclusiveness, or the likelihood of improvements having positive effects throughout the health care industry.

One of the next studies in the IOM's series of studies on health care reform is being conducted along with SAMHSA, and will focus on substance abuse and mental health. The study is set to begin this fall, according to Dr. Manderscheid.

In addition to those efforts, the IOM will also be focusing on mental health at its annual meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 27 in Washington.

This focus on mental health care comes none too soon. The World Health Organization estimates that half of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are psychiatric conditions and that by 2020, major depression will be the second leading cause of disease burden worldwide, as measured in disability adjusted life-years. …