Mental health care, persecuted without merit, has long suffered from the prejudice and shame fashioned by a public blinded by ignorance. The real barriers created by the primary health care system hampering access to mental health care are increased by the preconceived ideals that ridicule the patient in crisis confronts. The purpose o f this project is to identify the barriers to access, how access it mental health care can be achieved through primary care and how the nurse practitioner can aid in mental health access as a primary care provider. Research o f literature provides a base o f information and foundation of the concept o f access and the views explored by authorities in the health care profession. Data gathered by from the review of literature synthesizes the nurse practitioners role as a primary care provider in easing the process of access to mental health care. Development of an integration model and referral system of consulting family nurse practitioners and psychiatric nurse practitioners meets the need for mental health care in the primary health care setting. Unmet mental health needs can be met by educating primary care family nurse practitioners about the importance o f mental health assessment, accessibility, and management. Those mental health needs van be met by providing on-site psychiatric nurse practitioners for consultation and follow-up for mental health problems that are too complex for the primary health care provider (Sousa 2004). Baumann approaches access to primary care as an avenue to mental health care. In the National Comorbidity Survey, a cross-sectional, nationally representative household survey, fewer than 40% o f those surveyed that had serious mental illness reported receiving stable treatment (Kessler et at., 2001). Three main barriers to access to mental health care through primary health care system were identified by the researchers, situational, economic and ineffectiveness. Primary care settings that provide access to integrated mental health services can make available cost-effective care. Psychiatric nurse practitioner skills to integrate the two aspects of primary and mental health care in one location (White, 2000). Removal o f internal and external obstacles to allow reasonable entry into the health care arena is not an easy task. Navigating that entangled systems o f insurance companies, employee specialized health care coverage. Medicare and Medicaid, and other forms o f access, along with the medical institutional bureaucracy, leaves the uniformed consumer at the mercy both advocates and predators. The nurse practitioner can pave the path to a safe, consumer friendly accessible health care system. Stabilizing the access to the primary health care system provides easier access to the mental health care system.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Brenda Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Sandra Kirkland

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons