The Future of Mental Health Care: Trends and Forecast

  • James H. Lake


This chapter reviews trends that are driving change in mental health care and offers near-term and long-term forecasts. Advances in the basic sciences are gradually transforming Western medicine into a more complete paradigm that is embracing advanced technologies and insights from the world’s great healing traditions. Innovations in assessment and treatment of mental health problems are being shaped by progress in neuroscience, genetics, artificial intelligence, and advanced technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) software is already changing how physicians work with patients and how patients obtain care for mental health problems. This trend will continue and accelerate as AI applications become pervasive in industrialized countries. Irrespective of whether change is conservative or radical, advances in Western medicine and CAM will inevitably lead to innovations in mental health care resulting in a broader range of treatment choices and improvement in the current model of care delivery. Psychiatry as currently practiced will transition away from pharmacology as the dominant mode of treatment toward increasing reliance on advanced technologies for promoting optimal wellness and for assessing and treating mental illness. Increasing openness to new ways of thinking about mental health among both practitioners and patients is leading to a more integrative model of mental health care that draws evidence from biomedical psychiatry and CAM. In the coming decades, well before the end of the century, there will no longer be a rigid dichotomy between Western medical therapies and CAM modalities, and the terms “biomedicine” and “CAM” will no longer be used. Instead there will be “new medicine” and “old medicine.” Mental health care will evolve into individualized “whole person” care and will address complex biological, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual, and postulated energetic causes and meanings of mental illness. Changes that take place in this century will radically shift the paradigm of psychiatry from an emphasis on treatment of mental illnesses to an emphasis on optimizing emotional, cognitive, and behavioral functioning.


The future of mental health Transforming Western medicine into a more complete paradigm Personalized and compassionate care 


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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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