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Network on integrative mental health sets out to improve patient outcomes

October 10, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The International Network of Integrative Mental Health (INIMH) allows a collaboration of mental health experts including medical doctors, psychologists, allied health clinicians, and scholars who are passionate about improving mental health outcomes for patients by combining complementary and mainstream medicine. It was established with the intention of being a resource to mental health professionals, researchers and the general public on the practice of integrated mental healthcare.

The practice of "integrative mental healthcare" adopts a model that uses an integrated approach to address biological, psychological, and sociological determinants of mental illness.

A combination of mainstream interventions such as pharmacological treatments and psychosocial interventions with evidence-based non-conventional therapeutics (such as nutritional medicine, dietary and exercise modification, acupuncture, select herbal medicines, and mindfulness meditation), are often prescribed.

The interactive website, for clinicians and the public, provides links to resources on integrative mental healthcare; expert-hosted forums; a comprehensive searchable mental healthcare library; and offers networking between clinicians, researchers and the public.

In addition to the website, a white paper co-authored by INIMH President, Dr. James Lake, and Vice President, Dr. Jerome Sarris outlines strategic recommendations for advancing integrative mental healthcare, including increasing research in key areas, improving clinician training and education, and promoting a public health agenda.

"The current trend suggests that many healthcare providers and patients believe that both conventional and non-conventional therapies are legitimate treatment choices," Dr. Sarris points out. 

"However there is little agreement on what healthcare providers should recommend — or patients should choose — regarding safe, evidence-based, non-conventional or integrative treatment strategies to address mental health needs. INIMH addresses this deficit," states Dr. Lake.  "It is our intention with the launch of the website to grow the international network to assist in the transformation of mental healthcare, and to provide a vital resource for clinicians and the public."

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