Discussing Barriers to Closing the Behavioral Health Integration Gap

“We know that behavioral health integration is a necessary component of primary care, desired by both patients and providers. We now need to focus on what is holding us back from implementing at scale,” stated Louise Cohen, CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC), at the recent Primary Care Summit: Closing the Behavioral Health Integration Gap. Ms Cohen was joined by a panel of state and local speakers to address this ongoing challenge.

Need for integrated physical and behavioral health care

Ms Cohen shared the stark statistics: 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness and 1 in 25 have serious mental illness. On average, those living with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than their peers, largely because of treatable comorbid medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that are often exacerbated by poor health habits and challenges with accessing standard primary services.1

Andrew Philip, Senior Director, Clinical & Population Health, PCDC, mentioned some of the innovations around accessibility and integration aimed at this specific population. These included the Improving Mood—Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment (IMPACT)2 intervention and the Primary Care Access Referral, and Evaluation (PCARE)3 trial. Over the past several years, funding has been available for the development of integrated health care, (eg, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s [SAMHSA’s] Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration grants program).4

Go to top