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Russians, NIMH Try to Stem Depression

Russian and NIMH psychiatrists and psychologists are developing a collaborative approach between primary health care and mental health specialists to reduce disability associated with major depressive disorder.

This joint effort was inspired by a recent study entitled "The Global Burden of Disease," identifying major depression as the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide. It is one of two mental health initiatives emanating from the Gore/Chernomyrdin health committee initiated by DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala and Russian minister of health Dr. Tatiana Dmitieva. The other initiative focuses greater attention on the mental health consequences of disasters.

NIH recently hosted a delegation of Russian mental health professionals who are working with their U.S. counterparts to reduce disability associated with major depressive illness. Pictured above are (from l) Dr. Darrel A. Regier, NIMH associate director for epidemiology and health policy research; Dr. Valery N. Krasnov, professor and director, Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry, and president, Russian Psychiatric Society; Dr. Steven E. Hyman, NIMH director; Dr. David Lozovsky, senior scientific advisor for international health, NIMH; and Dr. Philip Schambra, director, Fogarty International Center.

"Enabling primary care doctors to work more effectively with specialists in the management of all chronic diseases is a relatively new area of emphasis in both countries, and one of increasing importance in the U.S. in this era of managed care," said Dr. Darrel A. Regier, NIMH associate director for epidemiology and health policy research. He cochairs the Russian-U.S. effort with Dr. Valery N. Krasnov, professor and director, Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry, and president, Russian Psychiatric Society.

Russian doctors involved in this project recently spent a week of intensive training in Seattle, observing and evaluating several model programs for screening, diagnosis and treatment of depression in primary care settings involving the participation of mental health professionals in a variety of ways.

"Our Russian colleagues, led by Dr. Zurab Kelelidze, have been extremely productive in both the depression area with NIMH, and in disaster-related mental health area activities with the Center for Mental Health Services in the past 6 months," said Regier. "They have developed educational programs in several Russian cities to help primary care providers recognize depression and have translated English language mental health textbooks into Russian." Next fall, he added, Russia will unveil a major public education program on depression and other mental disorders entitled "Nations for Mental Health."


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