Continuing Medical Education: Mental and Physical Health Care Integration


Mental and Physical Health Care Integration

By Assemblyman Brain Maienschein

What problem were we looking to solve with Assembly Bill 1340? Multiple recent reports document the alarming disconnect between supply and demand for psychiatric services in the United States. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the ratio of psychiatrists to population declined by 10 percent between 2003-2013. Nearly half the nation’s psychiatrists are private practitioners who operate on a cash-only basis, meaning most families can’t access their services. Another recent study found 55 percent of counties in the continental U.S. have no psychiatrists, and 77 percent have a severe shortage. And the shortfall is expected to grow: In its report this year on the psychiatric shortage, the National Council cited research projecting demand for psychiatry will outstrip services by 25 percent in 2025.

We can’t magically multiply the number of psychiatrists. But we can do far more to train the existing workforce to bridge the gaps in care. We think this starts with pediatricians and other frontline providers who are seeing the bulk of patients.