Physical and behavioral clinicians provide coordinated care in an integrated behavioral health care model

The importance of integrated behavioral health

Learn about this innovative healthcare model and how it can be used to improve patient outcomes

In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experiences a mental illness and 24% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment—a number that has not declined in the past ten years. [1,2]

The lack of mental health treatment in the U.S. is one of many issues in our healthcare system that needs to be addressed in order to provide more effective, holistic, and preventative care to patients. 

One of the best solutions to this problem is providing integrated behavioral health services to patients—a care model in which both physical and behavioral health issues are addressed simultaneously. This form of health care is extremely beneficial for the patient and clinicians also often prefer to work under this model.

Join us to learn more about integrated behavioral health including its benefits and how it increases healthcare accessibility for patients. 

What is integrated behavioral health?

Before defining integrated behavioral health, it’s important to understand what we mean by behavioral health. Behavioral health is a broad term used to refer to mental health and substance abuse conditions, life stressors and crises, stress-related physical symptoms, and health behaviors that often directly affect medical illnesses. [3]

Integrated behavioral health is an emerging healthcare model where behavioral and medical care providers work together as a team to provide whole-person care—both mental and physical health are addressed simultaneously.

Healthcare in the U.S. is heavily siloed with patients sent to different specialists for each issue in a different part of their body. An integrated behavioral health model moves away from this siloed model of care and towards interdisciplinary cooperative care that addresses the fact that mental and physical health are inextricably linked.

The relation between mental and physical health is based on factual evidence: 68% of adults with mental health conditions also have physical health conditions, and 29% of adults with physical health conditions also have mental health conditions. [4]

What are the goals of integrated behavioral health?

While there are multiple goals for implementing an integrated behavioral health model, they all stem from one overarching goal.

The goal of integrated behavioral health is to coordinate care and improve communication between behavioral health and primary care providers to provide the most effective care possible for the whole patient.

This coordinated model of care allows all clinicians on a patient’s health care team to work toward one overall set of health goals, effectively improving the patient experience both emotionally and physically. 

Learn more:

WeCare tlc participates in national report highlighting the importance of advanced primary care

What are the benefits of integrated behavioral health?

When behavioral health services and primary care are integrated, it has been shown to effectively:

  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Lower costs, and
  • Reduce stigma surrounding mental health. [4]

These three points — improved patient outcomes, lowered costs, and reduced stigma — are the primary benefits of an integrated healthcare model, but there are also more specific benefits that work positively for all parties involved including the provider, patient and diagnosticians. 

Patients with chronic physical health conditions often have related behavioral health issues which need to be treated, but often go unchecked. An integrated behavioral health model removes any roadblocks to accessing behavioral health services because patients are able to receive all the health care they need from one location and one team at the same time. 

As for the medical team, they often find that having behavioral health partners available to discuss and consult on patients to be extremely helpful when they suspect an issue may be related to mental health, but lack the expertise or time to properly diagnose. 

Does integrated behavioral health increase access? 

Accessibility to health care services — especially behavioral health services — is a major issue in the United States, specifically for non-white patients. This inaccessibility stems from the inherent separation of behavioral and physical health services in the U.S. which is one of the many reasons an integrated healthcare model should be adopted.

Integrated behavioral health reduces inequities in access as well as minimizes the need for inefficient and costly emergency services through preventative, integrated primary care. Providing one place for patients to receive all health care services they need including mental health services reduces the burden for patients who lack child care, transportation, and/or time. [5]  

Learn more:

The changing landscape of primary care for employers

How we’re providing integrated behavioral health services

As part of our mission to change the way healthcare is delivered in the United States, we believe the key to a healthy life is quality, convenient primary care. We view healthcare from a holistic perspective and are committed to treating all aspects of our patients physical and mental health. 

To better achieve our mission, we’ve entered a strategic partnership with Alleviant Health Centers to support emotional health for our members. The Alleviant partnership allows for closed-loop communication between our patients’ primary care and behavioral health team to allow for the best patient care possible. 

If you’d like to learn more about how WeCare tlc can help your company offer better employee healthcare through integrated behavioral health services, please contact us today.

Sources:

1: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Health Facts in America

2: Mental Health America (MHA) | The State Of Mental Health In America

3: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality | What is Integrated Behavioral Health?

4: National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions | Integrating Mental Health Services and Primary Care

5: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine | Integrated Behavioral Health Service Models and Core Competencies