Friday, June 7, 2019

The Behavioral Health Crisis: On Being a Part of the Solution

Much has been written recently in the media about the mental health crisis, not just facing our state, but the entire nation. Stories have ranged from new research showing an alarming increase in the number of U.S. teenagers and young adults turning to the emergency department (ED) in times of mental crisis (click here), to a 24/7 clinic opening next week in Harford County with the goal of being an option for people who need immediate access to behavioral health and addiction services.

Recently, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on several mental health and access measures. The report provides a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults and tracks changes in the incidents of mental health issues and access to mental health care, with the hope of promoting policy changes to improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs.

The dilemma is profound, but perhaps the biggest concern is the state of behavioral health care for children. The president and CEO of Mental Health America, Paul Gionfriddo, commented in the report: “far too many young people are suffering – often in silence. They are not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives – and too many simply don’t see a way out.” I agree. So, what can we do about this?

Earlier this week, I met with Dr. Harsh Trivedi, President and CEO of Sheppard Pratt. GBMC is very fortunate to be contiguous to Sheppard Pratt’s main campus. Sheppard Pratt is one of the largest providers of behavioral health care and social services on the East Coast. We have had a partnership for many years. GBMC provides medical support for some Sheppard Pratt programs and in turn, it provides psychiatric support to our hospital and behavioral health services in our patient-centered medical homes.

Dr. Trivedi and I discussed our work in integrating master’s-prepared behavioral health consultants, substance use consultants, and psychiatrists into our advanced primary care offices. We are now screening patients in primary care for behavioral health issues and addiction, and with these new colleagues in our offices, it is easier to connect those in need directly to services. We reaffirmed our commitment to work together and move upstream in the disease process with early identification and therapy to reduce the probability of bad outcomes and speed up the recovery process from problems such as anxiety and depression. We also discussed how we can better work together to more quickly move patients in crisis out of our Emergency Department and into the required therapeutic setting. We are scheduling regular meetings to reduce waste in our system to improve mental health outcomes and the care experience for patients and their families.

We cannot solve the country’s behavioral health problems on our own, but we can become an even bigger part of a regional solution.

Related Sites For More Information:
Mental Health America report 
Crisis center in Harford County
Increase in teenagers and young adults ED visits/mental crisis 

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