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  • Dr. Romi Fung, ND

Integrated Mental Healthcare Post #4: Decreasing Stigma

Updated: Dec 7, 2019

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How would you feel if someone heard you were seeing a psychiatrist or a psychologist in a mental health ward? Someone who heard that may assume you will have something concerning to do with your mental well-being, and may label you with something that's not quite comforting. This is the basis of mental health stigma.

In this short video, Dr. Sandoval mentions that by integrating behavioural health in the primary care model, that stigma can be further reduced. As a normal part of care in the primary care setting, patients and the older adult would not have to be labeled an individual that must be specifically referred to a mental health ward or behavioural care setting, and still receive that level of care in the primary care setting.

Our society values the needs of younger people, older adults come to be seen as less capable and competent when they are unable to perform tasks and make use of resources in the ways they once did (Horgan, 2019). Because older adults are seen to have more health issues attending behaviour clinics, that sets an example of stigma.

In a small study done by Miller-Matero et al. (2018), patients completed a questionnaire after seeing a psychologist in primary care. Patients were satisfied with having a primary care psychologist involved in their care. Most patients were more likely to see the psychologist in primary care and those who preferred this indicated higher levels of mental health stigma (Miller-Matero et al., 2018). The findings from this study provide preliminary evidence that offering integrated behavioral health services in primary care could increase utilization among those with higher levels of mental health stigma in comparison to seeking a provider in behavioural health services. Thus, integrating different health care practitioners in a primary care setting can play a role in alleviating mental stigma.


Horgan, S. (2019). Lecture Slides.

Miller-Matero, L. R., Khan, S., Thiem, R., DeHondt, T., Dubaybo, H., & Moore, D. (2018). Integrated primary care: patient perceptions and the role of mental health stigma. Primary health care research & development, 20, 1–4. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S1463423618000403

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