Primary care mental health: a new frontier for psychology

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Center for Integrated Primary Care

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Integrative Medicine | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


The medical system in this country is divided into primary care and specialty care. Mental health is for the most part a specialty service dependent on referrals, often from primary care providers. The authors propose a new model where psychologists work in collaboration with primary care medical teams. This integrated, coordinated model enables psychologists to help patients they would not otherwise see in a mental health system. Examples of patients in this category are seniors, those with somatizing disorders, and those experiencing the challenges of dealing with a chronic illness. This model also enables psychologists to provide consultation to the medical teams. In this article, the authors discuss the world of the primary care medical team and present the rationale for integration or collaboration. They describe the barriers to collaborative practices and ways to overcome these barriers. Finally, they present practical strategies that psychologists can use on a regular basis to increase their collaboration with primary care. These strategies can be used by those who work in colocated practices as well as those who work in separate locations.


primary care, mental health, integrated practice

DOI of Published Version



J Clin Psychol. 2009 Mar;65(3):235-52. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20499. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of clinical psychology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID