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Integrated Behavioral Health

What is Integrated Behavioral Health?

Behavioral Health is an umbrella term that describes how a person’s emotions, behaviors, and biology influence mental well-being and self-concept and affect day-to-day functioning.

Integrated Behavioral Health addresses the impact behavioral health has on medical conditions and overall patient and community health and wellness. Integrated behavioral health care programs emphasize the care of the "whole person" and are rapidly becoming the standard of practice in high-quality health care systems. These programs are a component of advanced patient-centered medical homes. Integrated and coordinated systems of care bring all of the available resources on the patient care team together to assist the patient and family with achieving outcomes and moving toward wellness.

The Indian Health Service is expanding integrated behavioral health approaches across the Indian healthcare system.

The word "GATHER" is a tool to remember the key features of primary care behavioral health provider encounters:

  • Generalist (all ages, any behaviorally-influenced condition)
  • Accessible (aspire to same-day access)
  • Team-based (shared clinic space, resources, EHR)
  • High productivity (see high percentage of clinic population)
  • Educator (trained in motivational interviewing)
  • Routine (regular component of care)

These specialists can assist the primary care team with screening patients for mental health and substance use disorders. They support the primary care physician by:

  • Coordinating the overall treatment plan
  • Providing brief psychotherapy proven to work in primary care
  • Supporting medication management
  • Referring to the appropriate level of care
  • assisting with tracking the patient during the recovery journey
  • Alerting the primary care physician when the patient is not improving
  • and
  • Communicating with the psychiatric consultant regarding treatment changes

They are also well positioned to assist with harm reduction activities and co-occurring disorders.