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Our blog about working together to help people with vulnerabilities live rewarding lives.

What is Integrated Behavioral Health Care?

What is Integrated Behavioral Health Care?

The Integration Academy of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines Integrated Behavioral Health as:

The care a patient experiences as a result of a team of primary care and behavioral health clinicians, working together with patients and families, using a systematic and cost-effective approach to provide patient-centered care for a defined population.

This care may address mental health and substance abuse conditions, health behaviors (including their contribution to chronic medical illnesses), life stressors and crises, stress-related physical symptoms, and ineffective patterns of health care utilization.

The World Health Organization began its briefings of integrated health care in the early 2000’s touting a split in the debate over what it was and if it was going to be effective.  In 2008, they determined that “there were more policies in favor of integrated services than actual examples of integration. “  It was noted that, in order for integrated care to manifest there needed to be a collaborative effort and engagement of health workers and managers as well as an executive commitment from senior level managers and policy makers.   Essentially, everyone needed to be on board.

What does that mean for us?  It means that providers are starting to understand the connection between physical and mental wellness.   Psychological stressors, like environment, relationship, home, etc…have an impact on physical health.  The AHRQ goes on to explain that, “Behavioral health encompasses behavioral factors in chronic illness care, care of physical symptoms associated with stress rather than diseases, and health behaviors, as well as mental health and substance abuse conditions and diagnoses.”

One of the most common, and psychologically complex, medical diagnosis is Diabetes.  The American Diabetes Association published an article in which is states, “Because patients are responsible for 95% of disease management, a diagnosis of diabetes can lead to increased levels of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and lowered self-esteem.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if a medical office and an emotionally therapeutic service paired to address all aspects of the disease?  A service in which a therapist would intuitively ask when the last check-up was, or what the most recent hgA1C levels were and understood the ramifications of the answer?

A world in which we truly integrate care is one in which we interact with a person, rather than treat symptoms and where we create a world of health that includes habits and normal emotional reactions as well as diagnoses in that care.

Where can you find this in your community?

Currently, Access: Supports for Living, is working with HRHCare in their Walden, NY and Monticello, NY clinics.   The Walden clinic has had an Access care manager working with them for a year and a half and within the last six months, has placed one of our therapists right in house!  Now those using the Walden clinic can receive fully integrated care walking through a single door.   In Monticello, we have one of our very own clinicians as well, providing an integrated model for the populations of Sullivan County.  We also have an Access: Supports for Living clinician working at the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center in Newburgh, NY.

Do you receive services at one of our clinics or in our PROS program?  You may also be eligible for Care Management to help smooth out the coordination of care as we have built multiple relationships with a multitude of local medical providers.


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