Free clinics today face tremendous challenges, including recession-based resource reductions and demand increases, system changes spurred by health care reform, and an increasingly complex patient profile characterized by persons with multiple chronic health conditions.
More than 68 percent of adults with a mental disorder have medical conditions, and 29 percent of adults with medical conditions have mental disorders. Sadly, persons with comorbid mental and medical conditions are at high risk for receiving poor quality of care.
Behavioral health care is an increasingly important service that free and charitable clinics provide, however, integrating behavioral health with primary care services can be daunting. Issues of space, staffing, treatment planning, medical records, and outcome tracking must all be addressed. Models of service integration are available that accommodate free clinics of diverse size, culture, structure, operation, and composition of staff.
The Integrating Behavioral Health with Primary Care guide available here is intended for free and charitable clinics that are looking to develop behavioral health programs in their clinics. The guide describes the need for behavioral health integration and the Collaborative Care approach to doing so.
Two versions of the guide are available: a shorter version, comprised of brief, concise bulleted sections addressing the topics listed above, and a narrative version, which provides additional background and language.