- Jason Schweitzer, MD, Director of Mental Health Integration, Rady Children’s Hospital Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA
- Jasmine Holt, PsyD, Research Assistant Scientist, Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Across the nation, many children and adolescents do not receive the behavioral and mental health care they need. Depression and anxiety are common, under-identified, and under-treated in pediatric populations. The consequences of this care gap may include long-term physical and behavioral health challenges as well as other morbidities. Out of concern for these issues, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD) and Children’s Primary Care Medical Group (CPCMG) partnered to form an integrated care program including embedded Integrated Health Therapists (IHT) in pediatric clinics in San Diego and Riverside Counties, with the goal to increase access to timely, effective mental and behavioral health care. Our model, which draws from Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) and Collaborative Care (CC) approaches, is designed to meet the behavioral health needs of patients in high-volume pediatric settings. We describe the development and implementation of this integrated behavioral health program and share initial questionnaire results examining primary care providers’ experiences and attitudes toward mental health integration prior to the implementation of an embedded Integrated Health Therapist within the pediatric primary care clinic. To date, all primary care providers (PCPs) located at the initial site of implementation were invited to complete a brief, anonymous online survey regarding PCP experiences and attitudes toward mental health integration. A total of eight providers (80%) completed the survey. Survey results indicated high rates of excitement for mental health integration (100%) and strong belief that having an IHT will improve their ability to effectively treat patients (100%). However, most PCPs (75%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that their patients have timely access to behavioral/mental health therapy, which further highlights the need for increased access to behavioral/mental health services. Staged roll outs of the integrated behavioral health program will continue over the next few years with plans for post surveys to be conducted at a future time point in order to compare PCP attitudes and experiences with the mental health integration process after working with the IHT in their clinic.
- Describe the design and implementation of our multidisciplinary integrated behavioral health model.
- Describe the evaluation plans to determine model success or failure.
- Describe the plan to evaluate patient and provider satisfaction and outcomes.