Addressing behavioral health barriers: 3 ideas

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Access to behavioral healthcare remains a challenge for many Americans, but there are opportunities for hospitals to expand their efforts and work with policymakers to address the issue, according to a new report from the American Hospital Association.

"Nearly one in five Americans is affected by a behavioral health disorder but often don’t receive the care they need," Jay Bhatt, DO, American Hospital Association senior vice president and CMO said in a news release. "The behavioral health [report] shares ways hospitals and health systems are identifying and addressing behavioral healthcare needs in their communities, the strategies they are using to increase access and the barriers to broader progress."

Three takeaways from the report:

1. In 2016, 57 percent of the 44.7 million adults with mental illnesses did not receive treatment, according to data from the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2. The American Hospital Association said hospitals and health systems are implementing strategies to increase access to behavioral healthcare. These strategies include community partnerships, integrating physical and behavioral healthcare in primary care settings, and re-examining the role of emergency departments.

3. Given these efforts, the association said policymakers can show support by working with healthcare organizations, patients and community-based organizations to develop policies that address the social, structural and financial barriers to appropriate behavioral healthcare use and access.


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