The first integrated primary care clinic in Monterey County, California plans to provide behavioral health services, medical care, and healthy life skills courses in nutrition, exercise, and other wellness areas. This integrated model will replace the behavioral health referral model in Monterey County such that this former system included primary-care-provider-based referral to mental health services that were located within the same building. This new model intends to better coordinate physical and mental healthcare services by 1) providing direct on-site behavioral health services to the county’s severely mentally ill (SMI); 2) targeting this population’s specific physical health needs (e.g., obesity and diabetes); and 3) decreasing barriers specifically faced by the county’s SMI thereby improving service delivery. Current barriers to receiving care that are specific to the SMI include: making and keeping behavioral health and substance abuse treatment appointments, commuting challenges and/or being uninsured, and limiting patients’ ability to fully express their concerns due to the time constraints of primary care visits. Lastly, fear of further stigmatization for having a mental illness is an important concern that this new system also aims to address.
The three new integrated primary care sites are estimated to serve 1,800 people annually and also intend to improve retention and service delivery, as county officials estimate 39 percent of the SMI did not receive behavioral health services last year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has earmarked annual funding of $400,000 for the next 4 years to support the new sites and the first is scheduled to open April 2013. For more information, refer to http://www.healthycal.org/archives/10697.