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New national program improves care for mental health patients (5-07-02)

Millions of Americans suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Anti-psychotic drugs often are the best treatments, but these medications won't work if they aren't administered or taken correctly.

"We have, over the past couple of decades, developed some really good treatments, but they often aren't used effectively," said Alexander Miller, M.D., professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). "The real benefits are not achieved over the long term unless you take a systematic approach to selecting and tracking medications."

To do that, Dr. Miller, along with a nationwide panel of experts, developed Medication Management Approaches in Psychiatry, or MedMAP. MedMAP is a tool kit for mental health care organizations and their providers. The program incorporates the latest research and methods to help doctors select and track medications. It also emphasizes patient involvement.

"MedMAP helps patients by helping doctors have the information they need to find the best medication treatments for each patient. It also helps patients by ensuring that the key information about their treatments and their responses to them are put in their records, so the next doctor knows what has and has not worked in the past," Dr. Miller said.

While MedMAP is a nationwide effort, the program is headquartered at the Health Science Center. Dr. Miller and his team recently produced a video, narrated by actor Stacy Keach, as part of the tool kit. The video will be available nationally later this year. Materials about MedMAP and other evidence-based practices in psychiatry will be available, as they are produced, on the Internet at (site under construction)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are funding the program."

Contact: Amanda Gallagher or Aileen Salinas (210) 567-2570:, salinasa@uthscsa.eduAmanda Gallagher Aileen Salinas