Meeting the Challenges of Mental Illness Through Integrative Mental Health Care

  • James H. Lake


Circumstances that have led to a crisis in mental health care in the USA and globally are discussed. Limited effectiveness, safety problems, and high costs of many psychotropic medications have resulted in an urgent mandate for safer, more effective, and more affordable treatments of mental illness. The conventional Western model of mental health care delivery is limited in its capacity to alleviate the root causes of mental illness because its theories and methods address only some of the complex causes of symptoms. Trends driving increasing acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the general public, patients, and health care providers are reviewed. Western medicine is being influenced by increasing openness to non-Western healing traditions and growing demand for more personalized care. In industrialized world regions there is a trend toward eclectic training among mental health care providers many of whom use or recommend CAM modalities in their clinical practice. Individuals who report a mental health problem are significantly more likely to use CAM compared to the general population and individuals with more severe symptoms are more likely to combine Western medical treatments and CAM. Integrative mental health care incorporating validated CAM modalities into mainstream treatment is an emerging paradigm that more adequately addresses the complex causes of mental illness than current mainstream treatments and models of care while resulting in significant potential cost savings. By combining select conventional and CAM treatments on a case-by-case basis integrative mental health care offers more advantages compared to any particular conventional or CAM modality or any single system of medicine.


Conventional mental health care CAM Integrative mental health care Clinical guidelines 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Lake
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Integrative MedicineUniversity of Arizona College of MedicineTucsonUSA

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