During the Mental Health Forum and Town Hall Meeting at the AHRQ 2011 Annual Conference, Teresa Chapa, PhD commented on integration:

“For our racial and ethnic minority communities….we learned that primary care seems to be the first, entry point for people in seeking mental health care or any kind of care.  And so, it behooves us all to look at the system of care that reaches all of our communities in this particular way.”

Dr. Chapa, Senior Policy Advisor for Mental Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), serves as a NIAC member.    

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) was created in 1986. The Office is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities. OMH was reauthorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-148). Key strategic priority areas of this office include addressing the state of minority behavioral healthcare, eliminating health disparities, primary and behavioral healthcare integration, and building the minority health and behavioral health pipeline.  

The integration of mental health/behavioral health in primary care has attracted a number of researchers in the area of health disparities. The appeal lies in the fact that providing behavioral health services in primary care settings has the potential to allow for intervening using a population-based model of care.  The goal is to provide comprehensive care to an audience that otherwise would go underserved; as it has traditionally being the case for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

An example of the research that is quickly surfacing in this area is, Meeting the mental health needs of low-income immigrants in primary care: A community adaptation of an evidence-based model.1

1Kaltman, S., Pauk, J. and Alter, C. L. (2011), Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Low-Income Immigrants in Primary Care: A Community Adaptation of an Evidence-Based Model. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81: 543–551. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01125.x