Integrated Care Improves Mental Health Outcomes, Cuts Costs

Integrating primary and mental healthcare in “health homes” can save lives, according to a leading mental health expert.

“It turns out, it’s actually a really great way to save money, too,” said Joseph Parks, MD, director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in St. Louis.

Dr. Parks, who is also chief medical officer of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, spoke to mental health advocates who gathered at the Mental Health Hope Symposium in Washington, DC, to learn about successful mental healthcare models and to raise awareness of mental health needs.

The meeting was sponsored by several behavioral health advocacy organizations. Its goal was to highlight the importance of patient access to quality care and treatment for people with mental illnesses before the US Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction begins to slash $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit on November 23.

Through a health home initiative in Missouri that predates the Affordable Care Act’s patient-centered medical home concept, community mental health centers (CMHCs) function as healthcare homes, or medical homes.

A primary care provider is responsible for overall coordination of care. Case management is coordinated, people with serious mental illnesses have their medical diseases managed, and mental healthcare providers offer preventive healthcare screening and monitoring. Primary care nurses play an active role as agents of change at the CMHCs….

By Sandra Yin


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