In its article “The Primary and Behavioral Health Integration Journey: Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Community,” the Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum introduces the innovative care Fairfax County, Virginia has begun offering its multi-ethnic community. It also discusses the many reasons behind the lowered life expectancy of those with a serious mental illness and the damaging effects behavioral health disparities can have on some minority groups.
As the article explains, “people with serious mental illnesses die, on average, 25 years earlier [than] the general population—largely due to preventable illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” Additionally, behavioral health disparities have led to African Americans seeking treatment less often than other groups while suffering from higher rates of mental illness. American Indians/Alaskan Natives also experience disproportionately high rates of depression and substance use disorders.
To provide a better quality of care for its diverse population—more than 33% of Fairfax County’s 1 million residents speak a language other English in their homes—the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board in Virginia has begun offering integrated care. This integrated care approach uses two distinct models. The first model involves bringing primary care into an existing community mental health center with the help of a federally qualified health center. This model focuses on sustainability by providing care to both those with insurance and those using Medicaid or Medicare. The second model involves bringing behavioral health into primary care by hosting onsite mental health services within a health center. Using these two models, Fairfax County hopes to improve both physical and mental well-being.
View the original article here: http://www.altarum.org/forum/post/primary-and-behavioral-health-integration-journey-meeting-needs-diverse-community