Washington DC: The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) has announced the establishment of its National Academy for Integrating Mental Health and Primary Care (Academy). AHRQ’s vision is for the Academy to function as both a coordinating center and a national resource for people committed to delivering comprehensive, integrated health care by addressing the challenge of integrating mental health and substance abuse treatment with overall primary care. The Academy will accomplish this task by supporting the collection, analysis, synthesis, and dissemination of actionable information that is useful to policymakers, researchers, providers, and consumers. AHRQ seeks to build a centralized resource to provide the tools and materials necessary to advance health care integration, and to promote a collaborative environment that fosters dialogue among leaders who treat mental health/substance use disorders and provide primary care. The Academy will endeavor to unite this community in a way that has not been accomplished to date. With the help of a team of inter-disciplinary experts called the National Integration Academy Council (NIAC), the Academy will develop relevant and meaningful resources that support the rapid translation of integration into practice by:
- Developing a sophisticated portal to accommodate all aspects of a successful resource center;
- Providing a forum for clarifying and strengthening the Academy’s mission;
- Supporting activities directed toward integrating behavioral health and primary care by leaders across disciplines;
- Serving as a repository for materials members want and need; and,
- Identifying gaps in materials and generating solutions.
A website that will be the portal providing the information and the locus of exchange envisioned for the Academy is in the process of being developed. Alexander Blount, a member of the NIAC team of inter-disciplinary experts, reports that the team will be meeting in New Orleans to continue providing leadership to the website development team, and to work on developing measures to assess integration in primary care practices.