Treating Depression in Primary Care: An Innovative Role for Mental Health Nurses
AbstractLate-life depression is common in primary care. However, because of barriers such as stigma and the assumption that depression in older adults is a normal part of aging, it is often under recognized and under treated. Further, most primary care providers do not have the time or resources to provide adequate follow-up depression care. By integrating a depression clinical specialist into the primary care setting, many of these barriers to effective treatment can be addressed. In this paper, a collaborative, stepped care treatment program with registered nurses practicing as depression clinical specialists is described. Additionally, three case reports illustrate the model. This intervention program offers a unique opportunity for mental health nurses to practice collaboratively in the primary care setting and to provide much needed care to an underserved population.