Hospital-community partnerships may improve behavioral health


As hospitals and health systems embrace a more holistic care model--incorporating behavioral health and wellness initiatives--leaders may want to find partners to help bolster these offerings.

Health systems that may not have any experience in behavioral health may find the gaps in offerings and the small workforce overwhelming, so it's helpful to unit with entities already doing the work said Wayne Young, senior vice president, behavioral health at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas, in an interview with Hospitals & Health Networks.

Young said leaders must think beyond the traditional behavioral health treatments administered by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Emergency department navigators, peer support specialists and recovery coaches, for example, are roles that can really make a difference, he said.

“There are a lot of ways to leverage different disciplines and other professionals, as well as the structures of behavioral health service delivery, that may be not be what many immediately think of,” Young told H&HN.

Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New Hampshire incorporates behavioral care into primary care, according to an article from the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. The mind-body, team-based approach brings behavioral health providers into the fold early on in patient treatment, and thus far, patient response has been positive, the publication reports. 

One of the program’s goals is take away the stigma that prevents some patients from seeking help for behavioral health issues, Maria Rosario, the hospital’s director of patient services, told the publication. “We are pioneers in this,” she said. “And we have seem more compliance, better patient care, and seen some evidence that this is the way to go.”

Young also emphasized conversations on reducing stigma as key strategies for hospitals and systems that want to branch out into behavioral health. Keeping the physical and mental health separate won’t solve the problem, so some hospitals--like WellSpan York Hospital in York, Pennsylvania--are opening in-house behavioral health units. WellSpan’s unit will have six private rooms, two interview rooms and two quiet rooms, according to an article in the Central Penn Business Journal.