Establish a national consultation line

Parity, Coverage, & Equitable Access
Diverse Workforce
social determinants of health
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Rural Communities
Coverage & Standards
Federal department
Health and Human Services
house committees
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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) should create a national consultation line for primary care providers to obtain real-time support from mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) professionals modeled after the Health Resource and Services Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Clinical Consultation Center.


Primary care providers (PCPs) provide critical MH/SUD services. The majority of patients with mental health conditions are first seen in non-psychiatric medical settings, and such conditions frequently co-occur with physical health conditions.[1] PCPs often treat a wide range of MH/SUDs and prescribe a variety of medications.[2] For instance, PCPs prescribe 79 percent of antidepressant medications and see 60 percent of patients being treated for depression, often with little support from specialist services.[3] Consultation programs can help ensure PCPs are treating MH/SUDs in accordance with accepted clinical standards, including screening, preliminary diagnosis, and treatment plans. A national MH/SUD consultation line would provide real-time support by connecting primary care providers to MH/SUD professionals and enable them to provide clinically sound and efficient MH/SUD treatment. This could be particularly important for PCPs in rural and underserved communities. Such a consultation line could be modeled after the Health Resource and Services Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Clinical Consultation Center. [4]


1. Kessler, R., & Stafford, D. 2008. “Primary care is the de facto mental health system.” Collaborative medicine case studies: Evidence in practice: 9–21. (n.d.)

2. Abed Faghri, Nahid M, Charles M Boisvert, and Sanaz Faghri. 2010. “Understanding the Expanding Role of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) to Primary Psychiatric Care Physicians (PPCPs): Enhancing the Assessment and Treatment of Psychiatric Conditions.” Mental Health in Family Medicine 7 (1): 17–25. Last Updated March 7, 2010.

3. Barkil-Oteo, Andres. 2013. “Collaborative Care for Depression in Primary Care: How Psychiatry Could ‘Troubleshoot’ Current Treatments and Practices.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 86 (2): 139–46. Last Updated June 13, 2013.

4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration. “AIDS Education and Training Center National Clinician Consultation Center | HRSA.” Last Accessed July 27, 2023.