Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) article outlining the benefits of
integrating behavioral health into primary care, captured the attention of the Mindability
Group. Leadership found it insightful and the statistics compelling. The
following highlights identify several reasons why integrating behavioral health
care into modern medical organizations makes sense.
in the U.S. living with serious mental health conditions die on average 25
years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions. It’s
clear that mental and physical health are intertwined and care for both should
be linked together within health care delivery systems.
health policy experts are starting to recognize this, and are implementing
strategies to combine mental and physical healthcare.
January 2015, the annual Health Matters Summit was held in Indian Wells,
California. The summit included a panel hosted by Dr. Gail Saltz, M.D.,
together with insights from Mohini Venkatesh of the National Council for
Behavioral Health, John MacPhee of the Jed Foundation and William
Emmet of the Kennedy Forum. The focus was on integrating mental health
services into primary care: in effect, turning local healthcare practices into
a one-stop shopping experience. “When you talk about mental health, we really
are talking about people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and COPD, with
asthma,” said Saltz at the event. “Because chronic illnesses absolutely cause
mental health issues, and mental health issues make those chronic illnesses
worse, we have to start talking about that in an integrated sort of way.”
addition, integrating therapists into a primary health care setting could ease
the concerns of people worried about the stigma of receiving psychological
care. Emmett also proposed the usage of a Tele-Med type program that would
allow physicians to bring a mental health provider into a conversation with a
person who is there in the doctor’s office.
practice model discussed included training colleges on how to screen for the
signs of depression, thus integrating these services on campuses. According to
MacPhee, 80% of students who committed suicide ever sought help form the counseling program
on campus, but had been to the health
the panel discussion, the audience discussed ideas for improving mental health
care. Linda Evans, associate administrator of Business Development at JFK
Memorial Hospital in Indio, Calif., spoke about a model in Texas where psychologists
and physicians were teamed up to provide immediate intervention for
patients showing signs of depression or other behavioral health issues.
However, a common problem was sustainable funding.
Evans suggested a possible collaboration between the medical community and some
of the valley’s many nonprofit agencies that work with stroke, Alzheimer’s,
cancer and other individuals and their caregivers.
the common thread behind each of these proposals is communication, and not just
between doctor and patient, or between healthcare providers. The more open the
public is to discussing mental illness, the harder it is to stigmatize those
living with it. Towards the end of the panel, MacPhee made the following plea
to the audience to “own” mental illness:
every individual can own it, where we all talk about it and we can all admit
it, we can really accelerate the removal of the stigma and prejudice around
it," said MacPhee. “This is an issue that affects all of us.”
know of a medical organization that is successfully integrating behavioral
health care into their daily operation? If you do, please share your insights with
our community by adding a comment below.