Connecting Body and Mind
A resource guide to integrated health care in Texas and the United States
In Texas and around the country, the move to integrate physical and behavioral health services is growing. Integrated health care has become a buzzword in the medical and behavioral health communities.
What is integrated health care? It has been defined in many ways, but in essence integrated health care is the systematic coordination of physical and behavioral health care. The idea is that physical and behavioral health problems often occur at the same time. Integrating services to treat both will yield the best results and be the most acceptable and effective approach for those being served.
In some ways, the seeds of integration already have been planted. Primary care providers know that many of their patients have behavioral health problems like depression and anxiety. Behavioral health providers know that many of their clients have physical health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Although traditionally there has been a rigid division between these professions – physical health problems have been seen as the domain of primary care providers, and behavioral health problems as the domain of behavioral health providers – providers in both settings increasingly are seeing the need to address both types of problems to help their clients become healthy.
We know that physical health impacts behavioral health, and behavioral health impacts physical health. If treatment addresses only one side of the equation, the patient cannot expect to achieve health.
The question is not whether to integrate, but how. Neither primary care nor behavioral health providers are trained to address both issues. Systems that pay for these services typically are set up to pay for them separately. Shifting to integrated health care requires a fresh perspective, new skills and radical changes in service delivery.
Integrated health care is challenging. The good news is that we know a great deal about what works (and what does not) in adopting this model of care.
Connecting Body and Mind outlines the full range of integrated health care approaches. It reviews the research evidence for these approaches. It provides descriptions of national programs doing integrated health care, as well as the current status of integration efforts in Texas. It outlines key resources for developing integrated programs.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is providing the information presented here to help inform policymakers and advocates about opportunities to improve health care delivery, educate providers considering integrated health care, and empower behavioral health consumers and their family members in advocating for quality health care.