Integrated health systems - How?


No health or mental health system operates in a vacuum. They are linked to other systems including primary care, reproductive and maternal healthcare, education, employment, agribusiness, water and sanitation, as well as business development. To build resilient models of mental health care, INSIGHT seeks to embed its work within existing and long-standing community structures, activities, and programs both within other health areas and within other sectors.

Mental health challenges can result in poor physical health and unhealthy lifestyles. People with severe mental health disorders have a life expectancy 10-20 years less than people who don’t due to poor physical health. Likewise, poor physical health can result in mental health challenges. For example, people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. It is important therefore to recognise these cause-and-effect relationships. When designing and delivering mental health support we need to integrate care for physical health problems as well. Correspondingly, any treatment to alleviate physical conditions, also needs to acknowledge the conditions impact on their mental health. Integrating health care for both these mental and physical conditions is essential for an effective treatment and recovery.

Too often acknowledgement of mental health challenges are excluded in approaches to deliver sustainable improvements in poverty or quality of life. The stresses of daily life results in mental health challenges for people in nearly every sector of social and economic activity: farmers, educators, police services, as well as office workers. For example, agribusiness support often fails to recognise the high rate of mental health challenges faced by farmers throughout the world that can result in poor production, business failure and sometimes ultimately suicide.

Any initiatives or approaches, whether in the developed or less developed world, which seek to bring positive changes to people’s lives, need to ‘bake-in’ approaches to the mental health challenges that their target groups are experiencing.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Jane struggled with accepting and managing her new condition and started experiencing depression. She is now finding it hard to follow dietary and exercise advice as well as often forgetting her medication.

Her diabetes treatment is now at risk. Jane needs her healthcare team to acknowledge her depression and help her receive treatment and care. Once she manages her depression, she can also more efficiently manage her diabetes.

Peter has a farm in a remote part of Africa with little access to health services.

Poor crops from reducing rainfall and disease have added to the pressure he has in supporting his family from the land. This made him often feel anxious and depressed. Peter begun drinking heavily, which is affecting his physical health and he now can no longer work the farm like he used to.

As his farm produces even less than before, he and his family have fallen deeper into poverty.

Any agri-business project or initiative that seeks to support Peter and his family out of the increased poverty will need to recognise his mental health and addiction problem and partner up with health care service who can provide Peter with the mental health and addiction treatment he needs. His mental health recovery is key to his return to productive work and his engagement in effective farming.

We seek to support key international initiatives aimed at improving access to good quality mental health care.


By becoming part of the INSIGHT Community, you’ll become part of a group of individuals passionate about establishing strong mental health systems internationally.

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