• Family Physicians Are on the Front Lines of Mental Health Care in America

    Friday, January 10, 2020

    Statement attributable to:
    Gary LeRoy, MD
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “With recent media discussions about depression and other mental health issues, I’d like to ensure that people understand the critical role and expertise that family physicians bring to comprehensive patient care.

    “Family medicine is a medical specialty, and family physicians are more than general health care providers. We receive extensive training in caring for patients with depression and mental illness. And because of the trusted relationships we already have with our patients and the comprehensive scope of family medicine, we are in a critically unique position to identify brain health disorders early and provide appropriate interventions, which could include consultation with a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

    “As a result of the stigma of mental illness and the many roadblocks that exist in our health care system—including geographic maldistribution and an overall shortage of psychiatric professionals—family physicians are the primary source of mental health care in the U.S., especially for vulnerable populations and those who need care the most.

    “As with all serious illnesses, family physicians ensure the best care for their patients and coordinate care with psychiatric subspecialists when their patients require intensive, focused treatment. But without family physicians, the nearly one in five U.S. adults who will experience some form of mental illness in a given year may go untreated.

    “We are already on the front lines of mental health care in America, and we are well-trained for this important work.”

    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. LeRoy, contact Megan Moriarty, 800-274-2237, Ext. 6052, or mmoriarty@aafp.org.

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    Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

    Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

    To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org