5 primary care practices embed social workers


By Patrick Dowling, director, MLH Outpatient Behavioral Health Services


As of August 3, five Main Line Health-affiliated primary care practices are being staffed with licensed clinical social workers.


The MLH social workers are adept at screening for mental health issues and offer brief therapy and care coordination. All have been accepted and validated as integral to the provision of whole person care.


MLH is embracing and expanding the ‘medical home’ model of patient care, treating the whole person on site.


Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force began considering a proposal from a government-backed panel of medical experts that all adults in the United States be screened for depression. There is a major shift in focus, nationally, on under-diagnosed mental illness and substance use disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that close to one in four adults experience mental illness and or a substance use disorder in a given year. This translates to greater than 25% of patients seeking treatment with their primary care physician and closer to 50% of those patients presenting to an Emergency Department.


Our social workers are trained in assessing and referring patients to facilitate best outcomes. By bringing behavioral health services to primary care, we are helping patients engage services at lower levels of intensity and with better outcomes than waiting for patients to actively seek services.


The MLH practices now with licensed clinical social workers are:

  • Goshen Family Practice – West Chester
  • Main Line HealthCare – 933 Haverford
  • Main Line HealthCare –  Springfield
  • Main Line Health Center – Exton Square Mall
  • Silver, Nansteel, Morris & Associates – Wynnewood


Licensed clinical social workers are expected to be added to other MLH-affiliated practices in the future.

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