Change the World

Our blog about working together to help people with vulnerabilities live rewarding lives.

Closing the Gap between Theory and Practice

I am so pleased to be able to write about Dr. Lloyd Sederer’s Huffington Post article ‘A Prescription for Mental Health in America’

Of course this is a complicated subject, but the brilliance of this piece is that it makes it abundantly clear that we can all work together if we address some simple strategies.

The Medical Director for New York State’s Office of Mental Health has done something unusual with this piece: he has laid out a wonderfully clear roadmap for a field in the midst of change. He starts with common sense observation that nothing will advance the state of care more than simply closing the gap between theory and practice—between what we know and what we do.

The ‘prescription’ takes the form of a top 10 list:

  1. Intervene early with 3-7 year-olds who have been affected by the traumatic events known as Adverse Childhood Experiences.
  2. Move quickly to detect and treat serious mental illness in adolescents
  3. Make screening for mental health and addiction problems standard practice, as it is with asthma and diabetes and other health issues.
  4. Use treatments that work, like cognitive therapies.,
  5. Stop criminalizing and incarcerating people with mental and substance use disorders
  6. Measure, just as we do with physical health, so we truly know what works.
  7. Move toward personalized care that increases the chance of successful treatments.
  8. Engage patients in a relationship that is respectful and collaborative.
  9. Focus on the social determinants of health, the real life factors that are much more significant in impacting the health and wellbeing of people than just access to healthcare alone.
  10. Pay for effective, humane treatment and not for volume.

Though this is all easier said than done it is possible for us to make tremendous progress if we focus our resources.  When behavioral health is addressed as a public health issue and we implement proven strategies for prevention, early identification, and effective treatment we will be amazed by the results.

Thank you Dr. Sederer for making this so clear.  All of us who care about improving the way we care for one another are encouraged and appreciative to have this simple and smart prescription.

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