Mental Health and Primary Care

Family physicians play a critical role in the delivery of mental health care. Because they treat the whole person, family physicians are often better able to recognize problems and provide interventions. Family physicians often treat patients who would not otherwise access mental health services due to cost or the social stigma surrounding mental illness.

MAFP believes that family physicians should be actively engaged in the ongoing dialogue in Michigan surrounding mental health care. In early 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder issued Executive Orders 2013-6 and 2013-7, which would, among other things, create a mental health commission tasked with developing policy recommendations to strengthen Michigan's mental health care system. The commission, made up of six members including Lt. Governor Brian Calley, has been holding hearings throughout the state, engaging with various stakeholders. The commission is expected to report its findings at the end of the year. To effectively accomplish its objectives, the commission divided into five work groups, each charged with addressing more narrowly focused areas of interest. On January 21, 2014, the Mental Health and Wellness Commission released its final report, available here.

During his tenure, MAFP President, Fred Van Alstine, MD, MBA, testified before the Governor's Mental Health Commission on the current mental health care landscape in Michigan. In particular, he highlighted the unique role family physicians play in delivering mental health care in their communities, an often unrecognized reality. He also shed light on the important link between mental and psychological well-being and physical health, which cannot be overlooked by policymakers seeking to address our state's health care needs in a comprehensive and holistic manner.

Additional Resources