The Surgeon General’s Report: Facing Addiction in America (2016) states that “the problems caused by substance misuse are not limited to substance use disorders, but include many other possible health and safety problems that can result from substance misuse even in the absence of a disorder.” Despite the ongoing efforts to highlight the urgent Public Health issue of addiction, a report published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems emphasized that mental health and substance use disorders are the world’s leading cause of years lived with disability, and at least 75% of people with a mental disorder do not receive treatment in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs)(Suasnabar and Walters, 2020).
Dr. Valeria Reynolds, MD, MPH, is currently a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Resident and is a fellow at the Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program. She has volunteered during her time in medical school at the emergency department and as an internal medicine consultant. Additionally, through her experience, Dr. Reynolds has offered her assistance to the Instructional Design Team and helps to oversee, organize and develop course content and learning activities. Her main areas of focus and expertise include courses and programs that deal with addiction, mental health, and public health.
Dr. Reynolds highlighted the importance of battling addiction as it is an “essential part of the disease burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and it affects mainly people with low resources. It is based on inequalities, and we need to help the most vulnerable people overcome these limitations.” She believes that the Program’s “perspective on addiction and mental health will help health professionals first recognize the prevalence of these disorders so that they are able to identify them and intervene for those in need and develop prevention programs.”
Through the array of courses offered, she remains optimistic about the role the ATHP has to play in changing the current landscape of addiction and mental health. ATHP recognizes that substance use disorders pose a great threat to public health. The priority is to prepare healthcare professionals to adequately screen, diagnose and treat patients with substance use disorders through free courses addressing addiction and mental health concerns.