Integrated Behavioral Health FAQ
What is integrated behavioral health care?
Integrated behavioral health care is a model of primary care that includes assessment and brief counseling for individuals who experienced chronic illness, chronic pain, life adjustment issues, as well as patients who experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties. Behavioral Health Clinicians (BHCs) work in tandem with physicians and other medical providers. BHCs are often pulled into an exam room for a warm handoff to meet a patient or family. The BHCs provide diagnostics, urgent appointments, brief interventions, and can also provide follow up short term counseling.
Primary Care Partners in affiliation with Behavioral Health and Wellness launched integrated care almost nine years ago. The program grew from a few hours of BHC coverage per week to a BHC staff of nine providers.
Do all the Primary Care Partners’ physicians’ offices have this service?
All Primary Care Partners clinics have full time BHC staff with the exception of Fruita clinics (Red Canyon and Western Colorado Pediatric Clinics) who have part time BHC staff. The BHC staff includes two therapists who are fluent in Spanish.
Does BHC staff counsel patients on the spot or do they make appointments?
Most patients are introduced through a warm hand off from the medical provider. The BHC staff may provide some one on one follow up counseling and will often see the patient, with the medical provider in a follow up co-visit appointments.
Because we value the integrated model, all appointments must start with a warm hand off from the medical provider.
What sort of issues are addressed when BHC staff interact with the patients?
The goal of integrated care is to provide what the patient needs, when the patient needs care be that medical, mental health, or joint visits with the medical and mental health providers. Many health problems include both medical and behavioral health symptoms. For example, Diabetes, Chronic Pain, Autoimmune Disorders, Concussion all have behavioral health symptoms commonly associated with the primary medical diagnosis. The reverse is true as well, a person with Major Depression with often have greater difficulty with blood glucose levels as a result of stress and depression.
Why is it useful to have behavioral health services in a primary care setting?
Having BHCs immediately available allows more effective care, care that is timely, and for patients who might be hesitant to go to outpatient therapy, they can be seen in same office they receive their medical care.