Embedding a Social Work–Led Behavioral Health Program in a Primary Care System: A 2012-2018 Case Study

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Abstract

Introduction:

The focus of this case study was the implementation of a fully integrated system of care that brought mental health into a federally qualified health center's primary care activities.

Objective:

The Mississippi Integrated Health and Disaster Program aimed to increase the federally qualified health center's capacity for providing mental health services and in so doing increase patients' access to mental and behavioral health services in primary care. Included are the historical origins of the program and the context in which these clinics operate, as well as successful processes that reduced barriers between medical providers and social workers and ultimately resulted in improved patient outcomes.

Results:

Data indicated that the Mississippi Integrated Health and Disaster Program's integrated health model significantly improved depression, anxiety, and self-care among chronic care patients.

Conclusion:

This integrated health approach transformed the treatment culture of patient care in primary care clinics and improved patient outcomes. This study highlights the benefits possible when behavioral health provided by social workers is fully integrated into primary care. This case study illustrates the importance of developing a care model that meets the patient populations' specific and varied needs while concurrently establishing an integrated service delivery culture within local clinics and within the organization's administrative structures.

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