Depression in older adults: The national mental care project for people with physical illness.
ABSTRACT Political attention is being increasingly directed to mental health in Japan. Mental disorders are now the fifth priority disease after cancer, stroke, acute myocardial infarction and diabetes for national medical services since April 2013. Each prefecture has to implement strategic mental healthcare plans at the regional level. With the increase in co-morbid mental and physical illnesses, patient information should be shared between psychiatric and non-psychiatric healthcare providers, and coordination is required in the healthcare systems. A better understanding of mental health between patients and medical staffs could contribute to improved access to psychiatric services in the integrated mental health care system. Collaborative care programs focusing on depression screening and management in the Mental Health Care Project for Patients with Physical Illness have been launched among six national specialized care and research centers (cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, child care, geriatric care and neurology and psychiatry) since 2012. These efforts to integrate mental health care into the general health care system would help to improve psychiatric care for elderly patients with physical illnesses.