An integrative collaborative care model for people with mental illness and physical comorbidities

C. Ee*, J. Lake, J. Firth, F. Hargraves, M. de Manincor, T. Meade, W. Marx, J. Sarris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many individuals with mental health problems have comorbid physical conditions, or may present with substance/alcohol misuse or abuse issues. This results in complex treatment challenges that may not be adequately addressed by a model of care that is solely delivered by an individual clinician using a sole intervention. Mainstream pharmacotherapeutic treatment of mental health problems often have limited effectiveness in completely resolving symptoms, and may cause adverse side effects. Adjunctive treatment approaches, including nutraceuticals, lifestyle and behaviour change interventions, are widely used to assist with treatment of mental health problems. However, whilst these can be generally safer with fewer side effects, they have varying levels of evidentiary support. These circumstances warrant reframing the current treatment approach towards a more evidence-based integrative model which may better address the real-world challenges of psychiatric disorders and comorbid physical conditions. In essence, this means developing an integrative model of care which embodies an evidence-informed, personalized stepwise approach using both conventional pharmacological treatments alongside novel adjunctive treatments (where applicable) via the application of a collaborative care approach. Discussion: In order to inform this position, a brief review of findings on common patterns of comorbidity in mental illness is presented, followed by identification of limitations of conventional treatments, and potential applications of integrative medicine interventions. Advantages and challenges of integrative mental health care, collaborative models of care, review of research highlights of select integrative approaches, and comment on potential cost advantages are then discussed. Summary: We propose that a collaborative care model incorporating evidence-based integrative medicine interventions may more adequately address mental health problems with comorbid medical conditions. Robust research is now required of such a model, potentially within an integrative clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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