That's the gist of recent Seattle Times Letters to the Editor* explaining why integrating behavioral health care into primary care is so important – and why we are excited to announce that HealthPoint has been awarded a $236,789 grant for Behavioral Health Integration. The grant from HRSA (US Health Resources and Services Administration) will integrate a Behavioral Health Consultant into patient care teams at HealthPoint Tukwila, add a Behavioral Health Social Worker at HealthPoint Renton, and provide on-site psychiatric consultation at both locations.
Shame or embarrassment prevents many people from using behavioral health services. Even though research increasingly links it to physical or chemical dysfunction, mental illness continues to be seen as a character defect by the public. This discourages many sufferers from admitting symptoms or getting help.
As a primary care provider, HealthPoint is an important “touch point” for people who aren’t interested in or familiar with seeking help from the behavioral health system, who would be more comfortable in the familiar environment of their doctor’s office. Because behavioral and physical health problems are often interwoven, offering behavioral health services as part of a normal primary care services is an effective way to reduce shame or embarrassment as well as promote better overall health outcomes for our patients.
At HealthPoint Tukwila, the behavioral health consultant will provide expertise to patient care teams and offer patients same-day mental health visits as part of their overall care plan. At HealthPoint Renton, the behavioral health-focused social worker will help patients improve their health and functioning by addressing the related social, psychological, or emotional problems that prevent them from getting well and staying well.
*quote from Debra Morrison of Neighborcare Health, a sister Community Health Center, http://tinyurl.com/myv2j7o (image by Gabriel Campanario, Seattle Times)