How Texas clinics are breaking down mental healthcare barriers

Integrated health programs at clinics across Texas are helping improve the health of patients who need comprehensive mental and physical healthcare, Kaiser Health News reports.

Six insights from the report:

1. Integrated health programs provide patients with coordinated mental and physical healthcare services as opposed to treating the mind and body separately and caring for them under different systems.

For patients who rely on public transportation and face difficulties traveling to referrals for physical care at facilities far from psychiatric appointments, a system where this care is seamless can help them address all aspects of their health. 

2. In 2012, Austin, Texas-based Integral Care offered Kerstin Taylor, who fought alcohol and substance abuse problems for two decades, a holistic approach. The approach gave Ms. Taylor access to physical healthcare and a program to manage chronic disease added onto her regular psychiatric care. Most of these services were available at the clinic or in her home. Additionally, one case manager could help her keep track of her care.

3. There is an increased effort to offer integrated care, especially in public health clinics, Kaiser Health News reports. The effort stems from the realization that mental health conditions left untreated not only negatively affect patients' physical health, but also cost the system more money.

4. From 2009 to 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded 187 grants worth over $162 million to implement integrated care models, Kaiser Health News reports. CMS is also investing in integrated care. Medicaid is the largest single payer for mental health services, and about 25 percent of the inpatient hospital stays covered by the program were for mental health and substance abuse issues, a 2013 SAMHSA report found.

5. Sixty-four of Texas' 73 federally qualified health centers offer some mental health services, according to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration — an increase from only 36 clinics over a decade ago.

6. Integrated healthcare is "fundamental" to meeting state goals, such as reducing suicide rates, lowering incarceration rates for people with mental health issues and developing a savvier mental healthcare workforce, according to Texas' behavioral health strategic plan.

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1. Integrated health programs provide patients with coordinated mental and physical healthcare services as opposed to treating the mind and body separately and caring for them under different systems.

For patients who rely on public transportation and face difficulties traveling to referrals for physical care at facilities far from psychiatric appointments, a system where this care is seamless can help them address all aspects of their health.

2. In 2012, Austin, Texas-based Integral Care offered Kerstin Taylor, who fought alcohol and substance abuse problems for two decades, a holistic approach. The approach gave Ms. Taylor access to physical healthcare and a program to manage chronic disease added onto her regular psychiatric care. Most of these services were available at the clinic or in her home. Additionally, one case manager could help her keep track of her care.

3. There is an increased effort to offer integrated care, especially in public health clinics, Kaiser Health News reports. The effort stems from the realization that mental health conditions left untreated not only negatively affect patients' physical health, but also cost the system more money.

4. From 2009 to 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded 187 grants worth over $162 million to implement integrated care models, Kaiser Health News reports. CMS is also investing in integrated care. Medicaid is the largest single payer for mental health services, and about 25 percent of the inpatient hospital stays covered by the program were for mental health and substance abuse issues, a 2013 SAMHSA report found.

5. Sixty-four of Texas' 73 federally qualified health centers offer some mental health services, according to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration — an increase from only 36 clinics over a decade ago.

6. Integrated healthcare is "fundamental" to meeting state goals, such as reducing suicide rates, lowering incarceration rates for people with mental health issues and developing a savvier mental healthcare workforce, according to Texas' behavioral health strategic plan.

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