Defining the Next Generation of Behavioral Health Strategies

Today, one in five American adults has a mental health problem and one in ten has a period of major depression . The number of people dealing with conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse disorders (collectively referred to as behavioral health disorders) is staggering and health systems are looking for better ways to care for those of us.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that some populations, such as low-income women and children, face unique barriers to accessing behavioral health services. Factors such as low educational attainment, inadequate housing, barriers to labor market participation, and poor health status can create structural barriers that prevent people from taking the first step to accessing services. essential.

These are just some of the daunting challenges that a group of more than 30 experts from various sectors – including leaders in the fields of health and social services, higher education , think tanks and philanthropic organizations – gathered at the Center for Total Health on Friday, 22 September.

Behavioral Health Managers Turn to to Find Solutions

The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and Mental Health America with the support of Kaiser Permanente, directs an effort to identify creative ways of doing business. Engage and coordinate community assets to transform the delivery of support services in behavioral health, with a focus on the treatment of the "whole person," including the many factors that affect prevention and access to care. This one-day meeting is the first in a series of four that will explore innovative ways to address these challenges facing families and people with low incomes.

As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, I have been encouraged to see leaders come together to learn from each other and identify opportunities for intersectoral collaboration. Notable speakers such as Don Mordecai MD, National Chief for Mental Health and Well-Being of Kaiser Permanente and Director of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Services for the Permanent Medical Group; Peter Edelman faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality; and Patrick Courneya MD, executive vice president and medical director for Kaiser Permanente's National Health and Quality Hospital Plan were among those who shared their unique ideas and encouraged a thoughtful discussion with participants.

Throughout the day, participants developed a vision for the future of whole family care, discussed the necessary community-level capacity to realize this vision, and reflected on solutions to identified barriers, including changes at the political level. A central theme was the need for multisectoral collaboration including finances, accountabilities and results.

An important step forward, with miles to go

As I was leaving the meeting with the assurance that, by coming together and facilitating this important conversation, we have taken a big step in the right direction, I know that there is still a lot of work to do. Over the next two years, we will continue to build on the foundation we have laid today. We will constantly refine our strategies, informed by real-world experiences and the knowledge we share with each other.

Ultimately, the findings from these meetings will culminate in a public report summarizing our collective thinking on how best to address the behavioral health challenges facing low-income families. The conversations I have heard and attended today give me the hope that we will rise to the challenge and expand access to comprehensive family behavioral health services. for present and future generations.

Author: Cecilia O. Echeverria Member of Parliament, MPH, is the Senior Director for Public Policy, Strategy and Operations of the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy, Relations with the Government

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – can be customized to incorporate interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total Health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization wishes to organize an event, please send us an event request via our website. We are looking forward to hearing from you!


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