Full Integration: Primary Care and Behavioral Healthcare

By Erin Harris | Posted on 01.20.2014 | 0 comments
If you’re a healthcare provider, you’ve probably seen this time and time again: A person who’s sick or injured, experiencing prolonged pain, starts to suffer mentally and emotionally. Physical anguish saps their energy and they feel anxious, hopeless, and depressed.
Or a person who’s buried under a mountain of depression, trying to cope with the weight of worry and despair, develops physical symptoms—they get more migraines, or gain or lose too much weight, or their blood pressure goes through the roof.
Or a person who has an addiction—their physical or emotional pain feeds their chemical dependence and impairs their recovery.
When it comes to the health of every person, there’s no question: mental health and physical health are inherently intertwined. In fact, reports a Behavioral Healthcare article, people with mental health or substance use conditions often die younger when they lack primary care. Similarly, notes Ron Manderscheid, the article’s author, “persons with long-term health problems, such as diabetes or heart conditions, fare more poorly and die younger when they also experience untreated mental and substance use conditions.”
Manderscheid estimates that the Affordable Care Act will double the number of people with behavioral health conditions seeking care, and notes that moving away from a treat-and-refer approach toward full integration of primary care and behavioral healthcare is essential to meeting client and patient needs.
Does your facility have plans in place for implementing full-service integration? Or do you already offer integrated services in your facility? What effect does it have on your patients or clients? Please share in the comments.

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