Addressing mental health issues in primary care: An initial curriculum for medical residents

Robert C. Smith, Heather Laird-Fick, Dale D'Mello, Francesca C. Dwamena, Amy Romain, James Olson, Karen Kent, Karen Blackman, David Solomon, Mark Spoolstra, Auguste H. Fortin, Jeffery Frey, Gary Ferenchick, Laura Freilich, Carmen Meerschaert, Richard Frankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Objective: Many express concern that modern medicine fails to provide adequate psychosocial and mental health care. Our educational system has not trained the primary care providers who care for most of these patients. Our objective here is to propose a quantum change: prepare residents and students during all years of training so that they are as effective in treating psychosocial and mental health issues as they are medical problems. Method: We operationalize this objective, following Kern, by developing an intensive 3-year curriculum in psychosocial and mental health care for medical residents based on models with a strong evidence-base. Results: We report an intensive curriculum that can guide others with similar training interests and also initiate the conversation about how best to prepare residency graduates to provide effective mental health and psychosocial care. Conclusion: Identifying specific curricula informs education policy-makers of the specific requirements they will need to meet if psychosocial and mental health training are to improve. Practice Implications: Training residents in mental health will lead to improved care for this very prevalent primary care population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Biopsychosocial training
  • Curriculum
  • Mental health training
  • Residents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Smith, R. C., Laird-Fick, H., D'Mello, D., Dwamena, F. C., Romain, A., Olson, J., Kent, K., Blackman, K., Solomon, D., Spoolstra, M., Fortin, A. H., Frey, J., Ferenchick, G., Freilich, L., Meerschaert, C., & Frankel, R. (2014). Addressing mental health issues in primary care: An initial curriculum for medical residents. Patient Education and Counseling, 94(1), 33-42.