Mental disorders such as depression and alcohol use disorders often co-occur with other common noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, noncommunicable diseases are frequently encountered in patients with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia. The pathways underlying the comorbidity of mental disorders and noncommunicable diseases are complex.
For example, mental and physical noncommunicable diseases may have common environmental risk factors such as unhealthy lifestyles, and treatments for one condition may have side effects that increase the risk of another condition. Building on the robust evidence base for effective treatments for a range of mental disorders, there is now a growing evidence base for how such treatments can be integrated into the care of people with noncommunicable diseases.
The best-established delivery model is a team approach that features a nonspecialist case manager who coordinates care with primary care physicians and specialists. This approach maximizes efficiencies in person-centered care, which are essential for achieving universal health coverage for both noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders. A number of research gaps remain, but there is sufficient evidence for policy makers to immediately implement measures to integrate mental health and noncommunicable disease care in primary care platforms.