Integrating Behavioral Health with Primary Care
Research has shown nearly 70 percent of primary care visits have a mental health component. Yet during a typical primary care visit, few providers have the time, training, or resources to diagnose, much less address, mental health concerns. Even if primary care providers do identify a need, it's usually difficult to convince patients to follow up with an unfamiliar mental health provider.
For many years, this problem was exacerbated in La Clínica de La Raza’s patients, because studies show they are particularly reluctant to acknowledge their mental health needs and, like many low-income patients, cannot readily access mental health providers.
That changed in 2007 when La Clínica began using CHF funding totaling more than $1 million to plan, pilot, evaluate, and strengthen the integration of behavioral health services into primary care visits at La Clínica's Pittsburg and Monument clinics. Research has shown this approach to be both clinically and economically effective.
During the program's first three years, CHF funds supported one year of planning, a two-year pilot implementation, and three years of evaluation. For that initial period, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Partners Senior Workgroup on Mental Health recognized La Clínica as a “Best Practice Setting.”