Depressing News: Mental Health Care is Under-Treated in Primary Care Settings

In 1998, Susan Bumagin, an independent researcher and writer located in Gloucester, Mass., investigated the issues involved in optimizing treatment of depression in the primary care setting.

The goal of the project was to identify funding and organizational barriers to, and opportunities for, improved treatment. Bumagin:

  • Conducted a literature review.
  • Interviewed key researchers and practitioners, the staff of national policy and advocacy organizations, and major funding groups.
  • Made site visits to established best-practices program/research sites.

Key Findings

  • Despite proven guidelines designed to better recognize and treat depression, organizational and financial constraints in most health care practices make treatment difficult.

  • As a result, many populations, including indigent ones, receive inadequate care for depression.

  • The most promising approaches combine care for mental health with physical health care. Bumagin highlighted several best-practices programs, which take a more comprehensive and integrated approach.