Statewide Conference Draws 400 From Across Texas
September 1, 2008
More than 400 people from across Texas met in Austin Sept. 8 and 9 for a conference on integrated health care, an emerging national movement to improve people's health by treating physical and behavioral health issues together.
The 15th Robert Lee Sutherland seminar, Integrated Health: Connecting Body and Mind, was sponsored by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. The seminars have been held biennially since 1978 in honor of the foundation's first director, who brought people and ideas together for 30 years to promote innovation and collaboration for mental health initiatives in Texas.
There's no question that a person's physical and behavioral health are linked. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease often are accompanied by behavioral ailments such as depression or anxiety. And studies have shown that people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder die an average of 25 years earlier than people without these disorders, due to factors such as medication side effects and barriers to receiving medical treatment.
Integrated health care is beginning to be recognized in Texas as a viable, beneficial way to improve people's overall health. Yet most health care systems, insurance plans and public policies are designed to treat a person's body and mind separately. Barriers to integration exist in financial, clinical, organizational and policy processes and systems.
More than 50 national, state and local physical and behavioral health care experts, providers and consumers spoke at the conference about their knowledge and experiences with integrated health care. The conference focused on three themes:
- Best practices.
- Benefits for consumers, providers, employers and insurers.
- Next steps to promote integrated health care in Texas.
Resource guide, conference materials online
Visit www.hogg.utexas.edu for a comprehensive resource guide on integrated health care in Texas and the U.S., plus conference presentations, summary notes and related articles.