• Road Map Outlines Behavioral Health Integration Strategies

    October 3, 2022, 6:21 p.m. News Staff — As the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health raises awareness about the mental health challenges Americans face across the country, HHS has joined the conversation with a new issue brief, "HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration."

    Behavioral health word cloud

    The resource outlines solutions for integrating mental health and substance use care into larger health care systems, with the overall goal of transforming the way behavioral health care is provided in the United States.

    It is the latest in an ongoing series of reports from the Biden administration on a national strategy to prevent and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Fact sheets published in March, May and July announced a national mental health crisis strategy characterized by detailed action on three core components:

    • strengthen system capacity by expanding and diversifying the behavioral health workforce to make the full spectrum of behavioral health care available;
    • connect Americans to care by enabling people to access services; and
    • create healthy environments by acknowledging the need for a society-wide effort toward behavioral health integration and recognizing the importance of culture and environment in promotion, prevention and recovery services.

    HHS said the road map incorporates feedback from patients and health care professionals to create a document that “aims to ensure that the full spectrum of behavioral health care will be integrated into the health care, social service and early childhood systems to ensure all people have equitable access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, person-centered care.”

    HHS identified challenges and solutions in each pillar to help

    • build a more diverse workforce to practice in integrated settings, including non-traditional settings;
    • increase behavioral health integration, coordination and consultation;
    • make behavioral health services more affordable for beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and any financing arrangement subject to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act;
    • engage high-risk populations in integrated behavioral health care through targeted outreach (a critical component to equitable access to care); and
    • align structural supports and financing to integrate promotion and prevention programs in community-based settings from early childhood to young adulthood.

    These policy approaches are aligned with ongoing AAFP advocacy for behavioral health integration, including comments to CMS on the proposed 2023 Medicare physician fee schedule and a recent letter to HHS on strengthening primary care.