Despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed, untreated, or under-treated in Primary Care for a variety of reasons including a shortage of quality patient time and practitioners' use of single disorder assessment tools. Practitioners’ rates of recognition of behavioral health problems are still low, although the number identified is increasing as more practitioners understand the importance of early intervention and use multi-disorder approaches to assess their patients.
For people of all ages, early detection, multi-disorder assessment, diagnosis and subsequent linkage with treatment and supports (together known as early intervention) can prevent behavioral health problems from compounding and poor life outcomes from accumulating.
Emerging research indicates that intervening early can interrupt the negative course of some mental illnesses and may, in some cases result in a substantially shorter and less disabling course of illness. New understanding of the brain indicates that longer periods of abnormal thoughts and behavior have cumulative effects and can limit capacity for recovery while early assessment and intervention can sharply improve outcomes.
Without early assessment and intervention, child and adolescent disorders frequently continue into adulthood. If the system does not appropriately screen and treat young people early, these childhood disorders may persist and lead to a downward spiral of school failure, poor employment opportunities, and poverty in adulthood. No other illnesses damage so many children so seriously.
As the behavioral health field becomes increasingly able to identify the early indicators of mental illnesses at any age, assessment must be readily accessible in multiple settings (including self-assessment at home) and connected to formal professional diagnosis, treatment and supports.
If you are concerned about how you are feeling, thinking or acting and believe you would benefit from a comprehensive assessment, click here to create your Mind Screen session and get started.