Find resources from national organizations and federal agencies about the integration of behavioral health care and primary care.
Integrated care is an approach in which primary care and behavioral health clinicians work together with patients and families to address their whole health. This approach uses systematic and cost-effective strategies to provide patient-centered care that improves outcomes.
There are many approaches to integrated care. Examples include:
- Co-locating behavioral health care in primary health care, child welfare, and education settings to promote access to services and resources for children, youth, and families
- Distributing information to families about mental health care in primary health care practices
- Ensuring more effective communication among providers and families
- Promoting better coordination of services and relationships among care providers
- Providing behavioral health care services in schools
- Providing behavioral health care services in child welfare settings
- Bringing primary health care into behavioral health care settings
Benefits of Integration
Integration benefits patients, families, and providers in several ways, including:
- Improved access to care
- Increased adherence to treatment and follow-up on referrals
- Increased collaboration among providers
- Decreased use of unnecessary emergency services
- Development of an integrated, individualized care plan
To learn how you can overcome barriers to integration and the steps involved, explore the Quick Start Guide to Behavioral Health Integration from the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions.
Resources for Integration with Primary Care
Browse the following resources to help you integrate behavioral health care into primary care settings.
- Building Your Medical Home from the National Center for Medical Home Implementation at the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) provides an introduction to pediatric primary care transformation.
- Children’s Mental Health and the Medical Home interview from MCOL (MP3 | 3 MB) is a podcast featuring a discussion with David Tayloe, Jr., M.D., of the AAP.
- Co-management Between Primary and Specialty Care is a set of implementation resources, tools, and initiatives, as well as training and events information, for clinicians and pediatric health professionals. It also includes a special feature interview with a grantee of the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program.
- Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit is a collection of tools and guidance from the Partnership for Early Childhood Mental Health to help providers integrate early childhood mental health staff, including a family partner, into the pediatric primary care setting.
- Integrating Behavioral Health into Primary Care from the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions provides integrated models, case studies, and other digital resources, including webinars and videos, for primary care providers.
- The Standard Framework for Levels of Integrated Healthcare from the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions is a report and six-level framework that helps primary and behavioral health care provider organizations improve outcomes by helping them understand where they are on the integration continuum.
- Healthy Steps is a pediatric primary care program that integrates behavioral health into the pediatric primary care setting.
- American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) on Mental Health and Physician Responsibility details the AAFP’s approach to promoting mental health and the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in individual and family contexts as integral components of family medicine.
- AAFP on Continuing Medical Education Resources, Mental Health, and Behavior contains self-study educational resources on a variety of topics for physicians and other health care professionals.
- AAFP Journal Articles provide physicians and other health care professionals with access to educational resources and articles from peer-reviewed journals, including American Family Physician, Family Practice Management, and the Annals of Family Medicine. Note: Full access to some articles requires a subscription or one-time purchase.
- Screening for Suicide Risk in Adolescents, Adults, and Older Adults in Primary Care: Recommendation Statement is an article published in American Family Physician detailing a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concerning the benefits and harms of screening for suicide risk in primary care settings.
- Adolescent Health Screening and Counseling is an article published in American Family Physician that discusses the importance of effective communication and empathy from physicians in screening, counseling, and treating adolescent patients.
- Better Integration of Mental Health Care Improves Depression Screening and Treatment in Primary Care is a policy paper published in American Family Physician that explores the value of enhanced, coordinated financial support for the integration of mental health care into primary care towards improving identification and treatment of depression.
- Depression and bipolar disorder is a collection of editors’ pick articles from American Family Physician concerning depression and bipolar disorder.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Programs is a portal to more than 100 programs and services across the operating divisions of HHS.
- I Can Do It, You Can Do It! is a national health promotion program that facilitates increased access and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to participate in regular activity, learn about good nutrition, and earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).
- Presidential Youth Fitness Program is a comprehensive school-based program that promotes health and regular physical activity for America’s youth.
- Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) is an eight-week physical activity and nutrition program to help children and adults maintain or improve their health.
- Presidential Champions is a physical activity awards program designed to motivate individuals to make regular physical activity a permanent part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
- #0to60 Campaign is a national public engagement campaign dedicated to inspiring Americans to accelerate their journey toward an active and healthy life.
Integration Resources About Children with Chronic Illnesses
Use these resources to support integrated behavioral health care for children with chronic illnesses and their families.
- How to Help a Loved One Cope with Diabetes from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is a publication from the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) includes sample questions and tips to support family and friends with diabetes.
- Transitions from Pediatric to Adult Health Care from NIDDK is an NDEP toolkit to help teens and young adults with diabetes transition from the teenage years to adulthood.
- The National Asthma Control Initiative at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is a program designed to improve asthma care and control through encouraging and empowering clinicians, patients, and others to follow evidence-based asthma care and control guidelines.
- Who Is at Risk for Asthma? from NHLBI provides information and video resources for a general audience on risk factors for asthma.