Chair’s Column June 2011

The International Network of Integrative Mental Health (INIMH) is a non-profit organization founded by mental health professionals working together to transform mental health care. Collaborating across professional and geographic borders we will change mental health care in the U.S. and other countries to more adequately addresses patients’ needs.

Over half of individuals diagnosed with a major mood or anxiety disorder use alternative therapies to manage their symptoms however relatively few disclose this information to their physician or psychotherapist. Although most depressed or anxious individuals treated with alternative therapies also use conventional medications, they often do so without knowing about the benefits and risks of such integrative treatments. The fact that most patients do not disclose their use of alternative therapies to their healthcare providers often results in poor communication between clinicians and patients, inappropriate or sub-optimal treatment choices, potentially serious safety issues, and disappointing outcomes. Together these factors underscore the urgent need to create a new model of care addressing the limitations of conventional pharmacologic treatments of mental illness, while acknowledging growing evidence supporting the safe, appropriate use of complementary, alternative and integrative modalities. Integrative mental healthcare is the rapidly emerging standard of care for treating mental health problems in the U.S. and other countries however there are no established guidelines describing “best practices” in integrative mental healthcare. An increasing percentage of individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder are using non-pharmacologic therapies alone or in combination with conventional medications.

By collaborating across professional and national boundaries International Network of Integrative Mental Health will work to bring evidence-based alternative and integrative therapies into mainstream use thereby creating a more balanced, more inclusive and more compassionate model of care. Click here to learn more about our shared values and goals. We are moving rapidly to accomplish major strategic goals. Within the first few years of our existence we will build a powerful international collaborative network to achieve many important strategic goals. We invite you to join our growing international network of mental health professionals dedicated to transforming mental healthcare.

Members of International Network of Integrative Mental Health (INIMH) will work together to:
Advance a global vision for an integrated whole person approach to mental health care via education, research, networking and advocacy by bringing together the wisdom of world healing traditions and modern science.
Re-animate the mental health field with energy, spirit, compassion and joy.
Create community and opportunities for nurturing personal and professional connections. We honor and respect the unique backgrounds and skills that each person brings to this work, and wish to promote meaningful relationships and connection to a global integrative mental health network.
Promote evidence-based alternative and complementary therapies and the judicious use of modern pharmacologic approaches for the betterment of mental healthcare.
Contribute to the emerging bio-psycho-socio-spiritual paradigm addressing mind, body, and spirit by promoting effective and safe clinical practices.
Educate, support and inspire integrative practitioners and trainees, at all levels of their careers and in all world regions. Our philosophy is based upon blending the best practices from traditional and modern healing systems. Our focus is on safety and positive outcomes while honoring our patients’ unique needs, beliefs, wisdom, and advocacy for therapeutic choices and relationships with practitioners that empower them.
Facilitate collaborative efforts between researchers and clinicians that extend beyond limited conventional understandings of mental healthcare as it pertains to treatment of individuals with psychological or psychiatric disorders, to a broader perspective that includes the range of psychosocial, familial, environmental, cultural and spiritual factors that impact on health, well-being, immune functioning, and physiological integrity.
In the first few years of our existence members of INIMH will:
Promote a holistic bio-psycho-socio-spiritual philosophy aimed at prevention and treatment of mental health problems through the judicious use of conventional and CAM approaches.
Establish an independent global network for all mental health professionals (e.g. MDs, DOs, RNs, NDs, acupuncturists, social workers, psychologists) working to advance the paradigm and practice of integrative mental healthcare.
Establish a website supporting the international network, that provides resources for expert consultation and prompt referrals for all clinicians on issues pertaining to CAM and integrative mental healthcare, including evidence-based treatment guidelines and safety considerations. The website will include a comprehensive research library on CAM and integrative mental healthcare, and links to web resources on conventional therapies.
Develop model curricula and training programs on integrative mental healthcare for clinicians and trainees in all disciplines (see Appendix B)
Provide social and professional support for the integrative mental health community.
Create expert resources on essential conventional, CAM and integrative approaches in mental health care for all people to further the education of both patients and practitioners.
Facilitate mentoring relationships for MDs, allied mental health professionals and CAM practitioners.
Facilitate international collaboration of mental health researchers from all disciplines.
Launch an Integrative Mental Health Practitioners Association for persons in all disciplines who are committed to integrative mental healthcare.
Launch a dedicated journal on integrative mental healthcare for the Integrative Mental Health Practitioners Association. The journal will cover significant research findings and clinical issues pertaining to all aspects of integrative mental healthcare. The journal will publish original research articles in addition to editorials, case reports, and opinion pieces. It will also include conference announcements and provide networking opportunities.
Provide a vehicle for funding research and advocacy for all aspects of integrative mental healthcare.
Establish and validate guidelines for multi-paradigm mental health clinics, including use of clinical algorithms and logic models to better understand parameters of integrative practice and evaluative measures to predict outcomes.
Funding the International Network of Integrative Mental Health was made possible through a generous grant from the Ted and Roberta Mann Foundation, a long-standing champion of mental health care reform. In publicly announcing our founding the board of INIMH is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Dr. Roberta Mann-Benson. The vision of Dr. Mann-Benson and the Ted and Roberta Mann Foundation has become a legacy that will guide our work to transform mental health care into better, more personal, safer and more cost-effective approaches to mental illness.