by Marla Fogelman
Those with serious behavioral health conditions usually die one to two decades earlier than those in the general population—primarily because they have chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and heart disease, which go untreated.1
And no wonder. In addition to the challenge of maintaining adequate health habits, navigating the complex healthcare system can be too daunting for individuals with co-occurring general health and behavioral health conditions.
Addressing the complicated medical needs of these individuals also poses challenges for health practitioners across disciplines, whether in behavioral health or primary care settings.
But providing systematic coordinated care, or integrated care, as promoted by the SAMHSA–HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
(CIHS), offers treatment models that can not only bridge the divide between physical and mental health but also extend and improve lives. CIHS's mission is to help individuals with co-occurring conditions have access to comprehensive health care so they can experience both greater longevity and more positive health outcomes. CIHS also gives healthcare practitioners and organizations the resources and information they need to reinvigorate their own healthcare delivery. For example, having educational materials and curricula on integrated care has helped "reengage social work and social work programs," says Dr. Darla Coffey, who heads the Council on Social Work Education
, one of the seven grantee organizations of the Minority Fellowship Program, and is one of the authors of a recently published book, Social Work and Integrated Health Care: From Policy to Practice and Back
. "The focus on integrated care has given social work [practitioners] a way to be involved in health care in a different way."
CIHS Is First National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Integrated Care
Funded jointly by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration
(HRSA), and run by the National Council for Behavioral Health
, CIHS is the first national training and technical assistance (TTA) center dedicated to the coordination of care across mental health, substance use, and primary care service settings.
Recognizing that the primary care setting is usually the point of healthcare entry for most individuals with co-occurring physical and behavioral health conditions, CIHS offers screening and treatment support to primary care providers and community health centers and organizations. The center also provides multiple resources on implementing integrated care across service settings, including the provision of tele-behavioral health TTA for rural medical clinics and private consultations with subject-matter experts
who can provide tailored and setting-specific guidance.
The CIHS website contains a variety of resources, tools, and information to aid health and behavioral health practitioners in understanding the value of integrated care and how to make it work. In addition to screening tools
, and information on the SAMHSA Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PHCBI) Program
, the website features information across six main topic areas:
- Integrated Care Models
- Workforce Development
- Clinical Practice
- Operations and Administration
- Health and Wellness
Each section also has information on related subtopics, all of which are accompanied by colorful photos, infographics, videos, and links to specific resource pages (for example, see Integrated Care Models
CIHS Resources Relevant for MFP Fellows
Among CIHS's repository of integrated care resources, MFP Fellows may find certain sections, on workforce development, cultural competence, and clinical practice, to be particularly beneficial.
As workforce development
is a critical component of integrated care, CIHS offers this information across different categories. The team members
section contains resources geared to nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and addiction professionals. The education and training
section provides information on graduate education, professional certificate programs, and national training opportunities.
Addressing cultural competence is another major piece of CIHS's mission. In addition to providing resources on special populations and linguistically appropriate services, CIHS features Webinars on Cultural Competence and Specific Populations
, such as Improving Quality and Access to Integrated Care for Racially Diverse and Limited English Proficiency Communities, and most recently, Improving Behavioral Health Integration through Culturally Appropriate Service Delivery
Fellows may also want to look at the clinical practice
section, which has free cultural competence assessments and resources tailored to specific groups. These include motivational interviewing for American Indian/Alaska Native populations, a manual on reducing suicide risk for veterans, and an online toolkit for eliminating disparities in the Hispanic population. Additionally, this section includes a report, Pathways to Integrated Care: Strategies for African American Communities and Organizations,
which specifically addresses the significant number of co-occurring health and behavioral health conditions in African American communities.
Integrated Care Keys Success of Health Care's Future
As a national training and technical assistance hub for primary care and behavioral health providers, CIHS's major objective is to show that integrated care can ensure the success of health care's future, by facilitating connections among healthcare professionals. As Dr. Coffey says, CIHS serves as a "nexus between programs and [clinical setting] placements, which is where the greatest impact on health care delivery occurs."
Source for infographic at top: SAMHSA.
Vreeland, B. 2007. Bridging the gap between mental and physical health: A multidisciplinary approach. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 68(Suppl 4),