The Importance of Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration

Individuals living with mental disorders frequently turn to their Primary Care Physician (PCP) as their first line of defense. Although we know that approximately 1 in every 4-5 adults experience a mental disorder, some studies show that as few as 5% of those individuals will seek care from behavioral health professionals. The integration of behavioral health and primary care might be the answer to reaching more people and affecting the most change in the lives of those who suffer from mental disorders.

Integrating behavioral health into a primary care setting allows providers to address the whole person. As the medical and behavioral health providers collaborate on cases, they gain more insight into the individual’s concerns and how to best treat them. This approach can free up the medical provider’s time in appointments so that they can address more medically-oriented concerns. In addition, primary care settings tend to be more accessible and have a much more diverse population of individuals seeking care.

Seeking behavioral health treatment from your primary care setting is also advantageous for the individual. Individuals report less concern of mental health stigma when going to their PCP’s office. Additionally, integrated behavioral health produces significant positive results: such as decreasing depression levels, improving quality of life, decreasing stress, and lowering rates of psychiatric hospitalization. The evidence suggests that when both medical and behavioral concerns are being managed, individuals are more compliant with their treatment of physical disorders. Catrina Hinkle, MA LCPC, Greater Elgin Family Care Center

Info Corner

If you’d like to learn more about Greater Elgin Family Care Center’s Behavioral Health Integration Program, please contact: Catrina Hinkle, MA LCPC, Behavioral Health Coordinator 847-608-1344 x 5231