The University of Michigan is trying a new program to improve depression care by involving a friend or family member in their care.

Patients who enroll in the CarePartner program enlist a trusted individual in their life to check-in on them and help manage depressive symptoms.

The program entails the patient completing an automated telephone assessment each week. The patient would receive immediate feedback on their condition. If they reported something that needed immediate attention, like thoughts of suicide or self-harm, or adverse side effects to medication, the system would connect them to an appropriate medical or professional resource.

Following each weekly call, the partner in care would receive an e-mail update on the patient’s condition, along with advice on how to help their friend or loved one stay the course when it comes to treatment. It also encourages the patient and care partner to set up a time for a weekly phone check-in.

This seems like a great idea and it would seem that addiction care could learn and borrow a lot from an approach like this. At the same time, this affirms a lot of what we already do–sponsors, family programming, etc.