People with mental and substance abuse disorders may die decades earlier than the average person — mostly from untreated and preventable chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease that are aggravated by poor health habits such as inadequate physical activity, poor nutrition, smoking, and substance abuse. Barriers to primary care — coupled with challenges in navigating complex healthcare systems — have been a major obstacle to care.
The solution lies in integrated care, the systematic coordination of general and behavioral healthcare. Integrating mental health, substance abuse, and primary care services produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for people with multiple healthcare needs.
Below are some resources with further information:
SAMHSA–HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions: Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) promotes the development of integrated primary and behavioral health services to better address the needs of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions, whether seen in behavioral health or primary care provider settings.
Arizona Department of Health Services Integrated Behavioral Health & Primary Care: We all need to take care of both our physical health needs and our behavioral health needs. In order to address all physical health and behavioral health care needs, integration of physical and behavioral health services include coordination and collaboration between all physical health and behavioral health providers to develop a common treatment plan leading to whole body positive health outcomes. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) promotes integrated care and is collaborating with other stakeholders to expand integration efforts to provide whole body health care for all Arizonans.