Integrating Behavioral Health with Primary Care

Behavioral health problems – whether mild depression, anxiety, or severe mental health or substance abuse issues – can make it difficult for people to manage their health and maintain a good quality of life. Patients with behavioral health problems are less likely to receive adequate treatment for many reasons, which include: difficulty in accessing proper health care resources, fear of being negatively labeled or stigmatized, or difficulty in coordinating services needed to meet all of their medical and behavioral health needs.

We can improve care for these patients by providing behavioral health services during a traditional primary care appointment, which is referred to as “integration.” By integrating the staffing and communication between medical and behavioral health providers, primary care providers can more effectively provide services such as screening and management of depression, linkage to substance and alcohol abuse counseling and treatment, and treatment of medical needs common among patients with severe behavioral health problems.

As this integration unfolds under the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program, primary care professionals may need to learn skills to comfortably treat certain behavioral health conditions, while it will also be important to have behavioral health experts available for advice, support and discussion regarding how to best counsel and treat patients with behavioral health conditions.

We recently distributed a survey to our OneCity Health primary care partners to better understand their current capabilities and services, resource needs, and barriers to integrating behavioral health into their practice. We would like for OneCity Health partners who provide primary care to make efforts to integrate behavioral health into their practices – it is what our patients need to be as healthy and happy as possible. Answering the survey will helps us learn how we can support training and resource development to help you succeed in this effort.

If you are a primary care provider, we thank you in advance for your cooperation – we know you are quite busy! If you have questions about the survey or its content, or need the survey link, please contact DSRIPSupport@nychhc.org.