Behavioral health is an umbrella term that includes mental health and substance abuse conditions, life stressors and crises, stress-related physical symptoms, and health behaviors. Behavioral health conditions often affect medical illnesses.
Integrated behavioral health care blends care in one setting for medical conditions and related behavioral health factors that affect health and well-being. Integrated behavioral health care, a part of “whole-person care,” is a rapidly emerging shift in the practice of high-quality health care. It is a core function of the “advanced patient-centered medical home.”
Integrated behavioral health care is sometimes called “behavioral health integration,” “integrated care,” “collaborative care,” or “primary care behavioral health.” No matter what one calls it, the goal is the same: better care and health for the whole person.
Providers practicing integrated behavioral health care recognize that both medical and behavioral health factors are important parts of a person’s overall health. Medical and behavioral health clinicians work together as a team to address a patient’s concerns. Care is delivered by these integrated teams in the primary care setting unless patients request or require specialty services. The advantage is better coordination and communication, while working toward one set of overall health goals.