How can psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians help people with serious mental illnesses obtain high quality medical care?

People with serious mental illnesses often lack access to high quality medical services. Psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians can play an important role in ensuring that they have access to primary care. You should consider several factors when deciding on the best way to help. If a patient has an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider, then the psychiatrists should coordinate with that provider. It may be appropriate for a psychiatrist to deliver medical services under the following circumstances: the medical problem is routine (as opposed to an emergency); the psychiatrist has adequate training; the mental health clinic has sufficient supports; and it is consistent with the patient’s preferences and goals. Under those conditions, it may be appropriate for psychiatrists and other prescribing mental health providers to prescribe common medical treatments such as statins or antibiotics. The annual American Psychiatric Association and Institute for Psychiatric Services meetings offer regular trainings to help psychiatrists to develop and maintain their medical diagnostic and treatment skills.


Vanderlip, E.R., Raney, L.E., Druss, B.G. (2016). A Framework for Extending Psychiatrists’ Roles in Treating General Health Conditions. Am J Psychiatry, 173(7), 658-63. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15070950.

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