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The APEC Digital Hub-WONCA Collaborative Framework on Integration of Mental Health into Primary Care in the Asia Pacific

Authors Dowrick C, Kassai R, Lam CLK, Lam RW, Manning G, Murphy J, Ng CH, Thuraisingham C

Received 7 July 2020

Accepted for publication 20 October 2020

Published 25 November 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 1693—1704


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Chris Dowrick,1,2 Ryuki Kassai,2,3 Cindy LK Lam,2,4 Raymond W Lam,5,6 Garth Manning,2 Jill Murphy,5,6 Chee H Ng,7,8 Chandramani Thuraisingham2,9

1Department of Primary Care and Public Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK; 2World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), Bangkok, Thailand; 3Department of Community and Family Medicine, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan; 4Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; 5Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; 6Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada; 7Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; 8Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia; 9Department of Family Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Correspondence: Cindy LK Lam; Chee H Ng Email;

Abstract: Mental ill health affects individual well-being and national economic prosperity and makes up a substantial portion of the burden of disease globally, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Integrating mental health into primary care is widely considered a key strategy to improve access to mental health care. Integration, however, is a complex process that needs to be addressed at multiple levels. A collaboration between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health and the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) is described in this paper, which outlines a framework and next steps to improve the mental health of communities in APEC economies. This paper notes gaps related to the integration of mental health into primary care across the region and identifies enablers and current best practices from several APEC economies. The potential of digital technology to benefit primary mental health care for populations in the APEC region, including delivery of training programs for healthcare staff and access to resources for patients, is described. Finally, key next steps are proposed to promote enhanced integration into primary care and improve mental health care throughout the APEC region.

Keywords: mental health, primary care, Asia Pacific, digital

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