snarled intersection of medicine, mental illness, and public
policy is a health hazard, says Associate Professor Benjamin
Druss, the first Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health.
a mismatch between how our health-care systems are structured,
says Druss, who came to Emory in December 2002 from Yales
Department of Psychiatry and Public Health. Depression
and other mental illnesses in patients frequently go undiagnosed,
particularly by primary-care physicians. The symptoms can be
subtle and doctors dont have as much time to get to know
their patients anymore.
because so many more people visit their general practitioner
instead of a psychiatrist or other specialist, its a
very important point of entry into the mental health system.
Ideally, Druss says, doctors offices and clinics should
have a system in place to screen all patients for mental disorders
and provide appropriate referral, treatment, and follow-up.
his new position at the Rollins School of Public Health, Druss
will study this and other mental health policy issues. We
want to bridge the gap between the world of research and the
real world, he says.
Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health is the first such endowed
chair at a school of public health in the nation. Part of the
appeal, Druss said, was the chance to work closely with the
Carter Center, which convenes leaders in various fields and
concentrates its efforts on the disenfranchised here and abroad.
Carter, who founded the Carter Centers Mental Health Task
Force, said, Mental illnesses have been neglected for
too long in the public health arena, and this will bring national
recognition and attention to the promotion of mental health
and the prevention of mental disabilities. We look forward to
working with Dr. Druss.
who is also a consultant to the Bush administrations New
Freedom Commission on Mental Health, has a medical degree from
New York University and a masters in public health from
Yale. He has a joint appointment at Rollins, where he is an
associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management,
and the Department of Psychiatry.
care at its best involves seeing the big picture, says
Druss, and feeling a sense of responsibility to be an
overall advocate for the patient.M.J.L.