In the healthcare continuum, the term “behavioral health” can describe the connections between a patient’s behaviors and his or her physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. For health professionals, this means behavioral health is a component of treating any patient with any illness, condition, injury, or disease state.
Because doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health professionals want to offer the highest-quality care, a growing number of healthcare communities are offering integrated behavioral health and primary care to their patients.
Any serious illness can impact mental health, and managing mental health needs is a crucial part of the treatment process. The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for affordable insurance plans to cover a much broader array of behavioral health support care components. This will continue to be a big help in breaking down barriers to accessing behavioral health services.
Integrated Primary Care and Supportive Services
Since every patient is different, their needs for primary care services and behavioral health support are equally different. More specifically, each patient’s behavioral support is often a unique combination of counseling and medication.
The first lines of support to which health professionals can turn for patients are their own healthcare facilities. However, as an indirect result of the growing patient-centered medical home model of care, these integrated approaches to primary care and behavioral healthcare extend beyond healthcare facilities.
The patient-centered healthcare approach is not at all new. Today, organizations like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), and others have refined and further developed it.
The medical home model is based on the practice of coordinated care among healthcare teams that may serve patients wherever they may be and whatever are their needs. The result, so far, is that it has become easier for healthcare professionals to find behavioral health support outreach connections for patients and their families in a wide variety of guises such as:
- Inpatient service providers
- Community health centers
- Specialty community behavioral health centers
- Community-based organizations
- Substance use disorder rehabilitation programs
- Mutual support groups and peer-run organizations
- At home through tele-behavioral or home-based services
This also includes a variety of other community settings that may be too numerous to mention in one article.
Finding the Right Behavioral Health Support for Patients and Families
One can find individual and group counseling that seeks to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations in many of the aforementioned settings. Trained clinicians, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and/or counselors, will oversee each.
Helping patients and their families find the behavioral health support they need is as critical to recovery as is physical treatment and management of chronic illnesses, injuries, and diseases. Health professionals can easily find support groups and organizations that work with mental health professionals online.
Every state in the U.S. has an online portal that lists available support organizations. By doing an online search for behavioral health organizations by state, health professionals who are new to or are working temporarily in an area of the country can find and explore resources that can be helpful to patients. There are also other resources like Mental Health America, which has chapters across the U.S. specifically for finding support groups for patients and their families living with a wide variety of behavioral health issues.
Every compassionate, dedicated, and informed healthcare professional understands that behavioral health interventions must go hand in hand with primary care treatment. By continually broadening their knowledge of behavioral health support resources, health professionals can live up to the ideals of the profession and help patients function better in order for them and their families to lead healthier, fuller lives
Disclaimer: General Healthcare Resources, Inc. does not specialize in assessing or treating behavioral health conditions. Any questions or concerns should be addressed by professionals found at your state’s behavioral healthcare agencies. You can locate said agencies by searching for them on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website.