On Oct. 11, the Association of American Medical Colleges hosted a virtual congressional briefing, “Confronting the Mental Health Crisis: The Value of a Team-Based Approach” (audio recording.) The briefing outlined the value of “integrated behavioral health” (IBH), a model of care in which primary and specialty care providers work directly with behavioral health clinicians to address the medical, behavioral, and social determinants of health and well-being. Over 100 congressional staff and other attendees participated in the briefing.
On the panel of behavioral health experts was UVA Health’s Amit Shahane, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. He provided attendees with an overview of IBH, detailing how these models differ from traditional models of behavioral healthcare. In a traditional model, if a medical provider identifies a behavioral health condition during a visit, they can provide a referral to a specialty mental health clinic, but the onus is on the individual patient to fulfill the referral. Due to workforce shortages and network adequacy challenges, it is often difficult for patients to identify a behavioral health provider who accepts their insurance. Shahane explained how IBH models can help address this challenge and connect patients to care by embedding behavioral health providers in primary care and specialty care settings. such as at UVA Health. He concluded by summarizing the robust body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of IBH models at expanding access to care and reducing wait times, improving mental health outcomes, and promoting patient and provider satisfaction. Thank you, Dr. Shahane, for advocating for better care our patients to representatives in Washington, DC.