Integrating Behavioral Health Into Primary Care.

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Author: Sarina Schrager
Date: May-June 2021
From: Family Practice Management(Vol. 28, Issue 3)
Publisher: American Academy of Family Physicians
Document Type: Article
Length: 930 words
Lexile Measure: 1310L

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Integrating behavioral health improves patient outcomes and makes medical practice more satisfying. Here's one way to do it.

Up to 75% of primary care visits include mental or behavioral health components. (1) This includes behavioral factors related to chronic disease management, mental health issues, substance use, smoking or other tobacco use, and the impact of stress, diet, and exercise on health. Behavioral health factors have an outsized influence on morbidity and mortality, and are the source of a large portion of family physicians' frustrations with the health care system. It is common to have patients who are unable to access care for mental health or substance use due to lack of insurance coverage or access. I work in Wisconsin, where we have a relatively low percentage of uninsured patients. Still, I frequently find myself prescribing antipsychotic medications that I don't feel comfortable managing, at least until my patient can see a psychiatrist (in three months), or spending extra time during a visit doing motivational interviewing to help someone quit tobacco use.

Fully integrating behavioral health in primary care is the gold standard for care. One integration model uses a behavioral health consultant (BHC)--a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or other behavioral health professional --as a member of the health care team. It is not meant to be a handoff of care, but a team-based approach supporting the work of the primary care...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A661114379