Innovation and Integration: Addressing the U.S. Mental Health Crisis through Primary Care Partnerships

Thursday, February 24, 2022

This panel is an in-depth conversation about a vision for primary care that can address the issue of behavioral health, and the integral role of digital health in providing behavioral health to communities. Panelists touch upon how payers, providers and other actors can align on payment innovation to support behavioral health integration in primary care, and why collaboration is necessary to strengthen primary care and increase access to behavioral health services.

California faces a behavioral health crisis. Nearly one in six Californians experience mental illness, with the majority of serious mental illness appearing before the age of 25 during adolescence. Suicide rates have increased more than 50% since 2000, and overdose rates more than 50% in the first 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The issue of mental health has been particularly pronounced for youth, for whom U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory declaring a mental health crisis in December 2021.

Behavioral health integration is key to providing patient-centered care and supporting behavioral health needs in addition to physical ones. NASEM’s 2021 report similarly creates a vision for the provision of high-quality primary care: whole-person care that accounts for the mental health of a person in addition to other needs.