Psychiatry for Primary Care: An Update in Behavioral Medicine


How can we help primary care providers effectively manage mental health conditions in primary care settings?



Note: This is the first part of a 2-part series covering the “Psychiatry for Non-Psychiatrists: The University of Arizona 2nd Annual Update in Behavioral Medicine for Primary Care” conference.—Ed.

During the midst of COVID-19, my psychiatry and psychology colleagues and I were watching the alarming rise in mental illnesses with deep apprehension. At the same time, our primary care colleagues reported treating more patients with complaints that presented as comorbid conditions related to mental health concerns. We could not match the needs of our community.

Even before the pandemic,1 the dearth of mental health clinicians was distressing. Patients with psychiatric conditions who required behavioral health care outnumbered the available pool of mental health clinicians. During the height of COVID-19, it was reported that “the mental health needs of our country have reached the level of a national crisis.”2

Post-COVID-19, we are still struggling to meet patients’ needs. Recognizing that primary care clinicians are on the frontlines and are having to navigate their patients’ mental illnesses with perhaps no clinically specific training, the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Tucson Department of Psychiatry created the “Psychiatry for Non-Psychiatrists: The University of Arizona Update in Behavioral Medicine for Primary Care.”

Our first conference in 2021 was well-received, and we are thrilled to do it again on Saturday, March 11. We are grateful to Banner—University Health Plans for their fiscal support that enables us to host the second annual Psych4PCPs conference, with top-notch presenters from University of Arizona, Stanford, University of Pittsburgh, University of Kentucky, and UCLA.

Psych4PCPs includes presentations—which range from 30 to 45 minutes—on depression, bipolar disorder, chronic pain in older adults, trauma-informed care, hoarding disorder, anxiety, and working with challenging patients, along with an Ask an Expert session. All the presentations will include practical and actionable knowledge to help primary care providers effectively manage mental health conditions in primary care settings.

We are confident that physicians, nurses, physician assistants, practicing psychiatrists, resident physicians, and community health care providers will gain valuable and applicable clinical knowledge from the conference’s incredible speakers.

In this 2-part series on the conference (for which participants may receive up to 5.25 CME hours), we share information on hoarding disorder and its treatment advances. We hope you can join us on Saturday to learn more about the other topics.

Jordan F. Karp, MD

Jordan F. Karp, MD

Dr Karp is professor and department chair of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Tucson. He is an expert in the fields of geriatric psychiatry, depression treatment, and suicide prevention. He is committed to educating health care clinicians about the principles of psychiatry and behavioral medicine. Ms Manser is the communication and marketing specialist for the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Tucson Department of Psychiatry.


1. Czeisler MÉ, Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic – United States, June 24-30, 2020MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(32):1049-1057.

2. Gates A, Mohiuddin S. Addressing the mental health workforce shortage through the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021Acad Psychiatry. 2022;46:540–541.

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