New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care

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Dec 03, 2014
by Jonathan Elbaz
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New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care

Seventh Health and Health Care Innovation session asks how to improve treatment in both developed and developing nations Session chair Robert Drake speaks at a previous Health and Health Care Innovation session.

More than 70 health care policy experts will gather at Schloss Leopoldskron this week to examine strategies for providing better behavioral and mental health care. 

In partnership with the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, “New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care” will explore innovative approaches to fighting mental and substance use disorders—the leading causes of years lost to disability worldwide.

Even though wealthy countries lead the global mental health movement, they still exhibit systemic issues in providing treatment. Many patients face exorbitant costs, and individuals’ preferences and local culture are often disregarded and decisions come from government or industry experts.

Meanwhile, developing nations have vital opportunities to learn from Western health care systems and to avoid their pitfalls.

Program Director John Lotherington said the “New Paradigms” session will heavily emphasize empowering patients and communities through a shared decision-making approach. With shared decision-making, doctors and patients rigorously scrutinize available treatment options together and use all available evidence about treatments and their consequences.

“People often hear the phrase ‘shared decision-making’ and they think that it simply means that doctors are being nice,” Lotherington said. “But it’s a lot more than that. It means that all the options are explained and the patient and doctor reach a treatment plan together.”

“New Paradigms” marks the seventh session in Salzburg Global’s “Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century” series, which since 2010 has crystallized new approaches to solving health care challenges for present and future generations. Past sessions have focused on the right to health, innovation in health care delivery, and improving health care in developing economies.

“Salzburg Statements”— the comprehensive reports from past Health and Health Care Innovation sessions—have been presented at conferences and in venues around the world, including at the House of Commons in London, the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and the ISQua African Regional Meeting in Accra.

The upcoming session October 7-12 gathers policy experts from five continents, including Fellows from Peru, Columbia, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, India, Germany, the UK, China, South Korea and Balkan countries. Some U.S. representatives come from Native American communities, which Lotherington said will add a fresh and important perspective to the discussions.

The first half of the session will revolve around plenary discussions presented through an interview format. Fellows will then participate in a “knowledge café,” an exercise of “intellectual speed dating” where they’ll be placed in three intimate discussions that cover a variety of topics, such as health care in post-conflict countries and depression management.

Later, Fellows will convene according to their countries to develop action plans that outline the next steps needed for positive change. In both developed and developing economies, mental and behavioral health care can be improved by empowering citizens and families, training more health care workers, decreasing the reliance on prescribed medication, and by utilizing emerging health technology.

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