American Academy of Nursing Designates Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan as “Edge Runner” for Bringing Mental Health to the Forefront of Primary Care

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Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan’s model of care integrates mental health services with primary care.

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American Academy of Nursing

“The Academy is proud to recognize Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan for her work in creating a replicable model that fully integrates mental health and primary care,” said Academy President, Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN.

The American Academy of Nursing today announced the designation of Brenda Reiss-Brennan, PhD, APRN, as an Academy Edge Runner for her nurse-designed model of care to integrate mental health services with primary care. Dr. Reiss-Brennan is the APRN Mental Health Integration Director of Intermountain Healthcare.

Edge Runners are an integral part of the Academy’s Raise the Voice campaign, which promotes innovative, evidence-based health models that better serve patients at lower costs, and have measurable results.

“The Academy is proud to recognize Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan for her work in creating a replicable model that fully integrates mental health and primary care,” said Academy President, Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Mental health care has long been a challenge for health systems in the U.S., and finding a way to effectively integrate mental health with primary care is imperative to ensuring patients are receiving the full spectrum of care to fit their needs.”

Dr. Reiss-Brennan’s model trains primary care providers and clinic staff in mental health care and coordinated-team care concepts—taking into account the dynamic and complex conditions that contribute to a patient and their family’s overall mental and physical health.

“Over the years, many patients were referred to me from local primary care physicians and nurse practitioners who were burdened with the rising mental health needs of their patients, and the growing black hole of community resources. There was a clear need for an integrated model that would address mental health care in communities,” said Dr. Reiss-Brennan. “In working with local care-providers and community members, I developed a collaborative mental health integration model for patients and their families.”

Since its inception, Dr. Reiss-Brennan’s mental health integration (MHI) model has been implemented in over 90 of the 160 clinics operated by Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system which oversees 22 hospital facilities in Utah and Idaho. MHI has also been influential in disseminating Intermountain’s implementation science of clinical integration in Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oregon, Arizona and overseas in France, the UK and Singapore.

Measurable results from the MHI model include:

  • Patients with depression who are treated in MHI clinics are 54 percent less likely to have emergency room visits than patients with depression in non-MHI clinics.
  • Patients with depression who are involved with one of the MHI clinics saw their health insurance claims decrease by $667 in the year following their diagnosis.
  • Diabetic patients with depression have their diabetes in better control (53.1% vs. 47.5%) with MHI.
  • Patients in MHI clinics reported improved overall functioning in their lives. Eighty-one percent of patients surveyed said they were hopeful they could get well or stay well.

More recently, Dr. Reiss-Brennan and her research team at Intermountain had the opportunity to measure the longitudinal impact of routinized MHI-Team Based Care (TBC) on clinical and financial outcomes and have quantified the value of integrating mental health as an organized team process within the context of primary care medical homes.

Through its Raise the Voice campaign, the Academy is mobilizing its fellows, health leaders and partner organizations to recognize nurses who are leading the way with new ideas to transform the health system and to ensure that they are heard.

About the American Academy of Nursing
The American Academy of Nursing ( serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. The Academy's more than 2,300 fellows are nursing's most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, policy, and research. They have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing and health care.


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Elyse Petroni, Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
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