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Arch Hellen Med, 31(6), November-December 2014, 669-677


The integration of mental health services into primary health care in Greece

V. Peritogiannis,1 C. Lixouriotis,2 V. Mavreas3
1Mobile Mental Health Unit of the Prefectures of Ioannina and Thesprotia, Society for the Promotion of Mental Health in Epirus, Ioannina,
2Health Center of Distomo, General Hospital of Livadia, Distomo,
3Department of Psychiatry, University of Ioannina, Medical School, Ioannina, Greece

The issue of the integration mental health services into primary health care is being studied worldwide, as the contemporary practice on the treatment of mental disorders is for patients to be treated in the community. This is a review of the international scientific literature on mental health integration at the level of primary care, with a view to finding integration paradigms and to document the usefulness of such a practice in Greece in the present era of economic crisis. It is generally accepted that common mental disorders are highly prevalent in the clinical populations of the primary care system, but that they tend to be under-recognized and under-treated by primary care physicians. In addition, patients with chronic psychosis often present physical morbidity requiring primary care. Contemporary models of integrated care include the co-location of psychiatric or other trained mental health staff in the primary care setting, liaison of services and the establishment of community mental health teams, which in the rural areas of Greece operate as mobile mental health units (MMHUs). The MMHUs in Greece provide multi-level care at low cost, and therefore constitute the optimal way of mental health integration into primary care in the era of economic crisis, when needs are increased and resources are limited. The Greek government is advised to invest in such services, by ensuring adequate funding.

Key words: Common mental disorders, Integration, Mobile mental health units, Primary health care, Psychosis.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine