Brenda Reiss-Brennan, PhD, APRN.
When psychiatric NP Brenda Reiss-Brennan started her independent family therapy practice in 1978, she began to get referrals from primary care providers who were unsure how to handle their patients’ mental health needs. Working with one patient at a time limited her ability to reach many people, so in 1984 she developed a model to train other nurses, primary care providers, and clinics in treating patients with mental illness. The model eventually caught the attention of Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit health care system located in Salt Lake City, Utah, which piloted a program featuring the model in its primary care settings.
The care model, which became known as Mental Health Integration (MHI), integrates the treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse into the primary care system. Instead of handing out a referral to an external provider and losing patients to follow-up, the MHI model ensures that patients’ mental health conditions and general health care needs are treated in the same primary care practice. Patients receive education materials, are screened for suicide, and are provided a safe environment in which to discuss their mental health concerns. “Patients and families are treated with respect and […]