Submitted by Tom Cain, President, Mirmont/Behavioral Health Services
For many years behavioral health services within the Main Line Health System have been viewed as ancillary at best. It wasn’t until a patient showed up at the ED with suicidal ideation or acute psychosis, or an addict demanded opiates under the guise of a painful condition, did the consideration of mental health and substance abuse enter the conversation for many clinicians.
A goal of the newly formed Behavioral Health Leadership Team is to help create a health care services environment where behavioral health is integral to the conversation and to the delivery of excellent health care.
It is estimated that one out of four people who present for medical treatment struggle with either a mental health or substance abuse issue. Some are afflicted with both. These conditions are frequently not treated, which contributes significantly to poor patient outcomes. What physician, PA or NP has not been frustrated with patients who are not compliant with their medications or with the highly recommended behavioral changes that, if followed, would produce better health and quality of life for these patients?
Much of this non-compliance is attributable to undiagnosed and untreated MH/SA issues. Drilling down even further, many of these behavioral health problems stem from adverse childhood experience and trauma that many seemingly well adjusted people carry inside, suffering alone, filled with shame. For anyone burdened by unaddressed emotional and psychological pain, compliance with medical directives is difficult at best. Therefore, another goal of the behavioral health team is to be a resource to medical staff in addressing these issues by collaborating in the overall treatment of our patients.
A recently established collaboration between Main Line HealthCare and Mirmont/Behavioral Health Services, to embed a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in several Primary Care Practices, has shown promising results. The following is the content of an email from Kim Chatha, LCSW, the embedded therapist at Springfield Internal Medicine, sent – after being onsite for only 16 hours – to Marion Severson, the office manager.
Because of your referrals:
One suicidal patient was admitted to the hospital and is safe now!
2 patients completed our partial hospitalization program
8 patients are engaged in individual counseling
1 patient is seeing a psychiatrist
4 patients have community resources they didn’t have before
Just wanted you all to know the difference Springfield Internal Medicine is making. I appreciate the support and friendly environment. Please let staff know. I will be keeping track of referrals and outcomes if you need information at any point.
An auspicious start.