Illustration by George Folz, © 2019 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Mental healthcare, also called psychiatric care, is an essential component of overall wellness that is focused on supporting social, psychological, and emotional health.1 Although some people may consider physical and mental health to be separate concerns, they are actually two highly interconnected systems that influence each other constantly.2 Just as poor mental health can worsen the quality of physical health, good physical health can support positive mental health outcomes. Considering this irreducible biological connectivity, it should come as no surprise that full integration of physical and mental health services throughout all practice settings, for all patients, is a frequent goal of modern healthcare systems.3
In the past, psychiatric diseases had been considered to arise from defects in personality, or even as the result of supernatural causes. Today, they are largely considered to be a consequence of underlying genetic and biological dysfunction in the brain, although the complexity of the central nervous system makes the identification of exact causes an ongoing challenge for many psychiatric conditions.4 Nevertheless, this biologically oriented viewpoint has led to the development of numerous medications that can help treat the symptoms and progression of these diseases. The act of using these medications is known as providing pharmacologic treatment. Pharmacologic treatment is one major component of mental healthcare, and often the area where psychiatric pharmacists employ the majority of their expertise.5
However, in light of the close connection between the brain and body, ongoing psychosocial factors frequently play a shared role alongside biological dysfunction in the development and progression of ongoing mental health issues. Therefore, the other major component of mental healthcare is non-pharmacologic treatment, which is frequently provided in the form of ongoing counseling and behavioral and lifestyle support.6 The concept of behavioral health encompasses these two components, most frequently referring to the intersection of traditional mental health topics, substance use concerns, and behavioral and lifestyle factors that contribute to health and wellness. The need for close integration of these two components of treatment is a practical manifestation of the brain-body connection that serves to define modern mental healthcare, and is the foundation for the diverse membership of the interprofessional mental health team.
Members of the Interprofessional Mental Health Team
Many of the important members of the interprofessional mental health team will be familiar from other areas of healthcare, including primary care physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.7 Given that mental health concerns are a common part of everyday life and healthcare, most health professionals will interact with mental health patients on a regular basis.
That being said, there are also multiple health professionals who specialize in the treatment of mental health concerns, and are ...