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The mission of the MacArthur Initiative on Depression and Primary Care is to enhance the ability of primary care clinicians to recognize and manage depression.

The World Health Organization estimated that depression was the fourth highest cause of disability and premature death worldwide in 1990 and will be the second highest cause by 2020. In most countries, including the United States, the majority of people with symptoms of depression turn to primary care providers for help rather than seeking mental health services directly.

Over the past two decades medical science has made great strides in its understanding of depression. New drugs and therapies are more effective in treating depression, yet the stigma of mental illness continues to influence clinician and patient attitudes toward this illness and ultimately the quality of care people receive.

The MacArthur Initiative on Depression and Primary Care bases its work on the premise that primary care clinicians must be well qualified and confident in their ability to care for depressed patients. The Initiative's mission is to improve care and outcomes nationwide for patients with depressive disorders treated in primary care practices.

The goals that serve the Initiative's mission are:
  1. To develop practice systems that facilitate recognition and care of depression;
  2. To develop educational programs and tools for primary care that enhance patient care;
  3. To evaluate the impact of these programs, tools and models; and
  4. To disseminate these ideas and materials to primary care clinicians, medical groups, specialty societies, health plans, and other organizations committed to high quality depression care.

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