Public Health

Integrate behavioral health into your practice, step by step

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

Are you a primary care physician, pediatrician, ob-gyn or other specialist trying to figure out how to integrate behavioral health care into your practice? Or perhaps you’ve started the journey of integration and are looking for ways to make it more effective?

Now there is help at your fingertips—the Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) Compendium.

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This one-stop online collection of resources is designed to support you and your practice wherever you may be on your journey to integration. It is one of the recent products developed by the BHI Collaborative, a group established by the AMA along with seven other leading physician organizations to enable physicians to sustain a holistic and equitable approach to physical and behavioral health care in their practices.

This new tool continues the BHI Collaborative’s commitment to helping physicians overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of meeting their patients’ mental and behavioral health needs.

Along with the AMA, the BHI Compendium includes resources and expertise from members of the BHI Collaborative:

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
  • American College of Physicians.
  • American Osteopathic Association.
  • American Psychiatric Association.

This new tool allows you to learn about behavioral health integration and see how to make it effective for your practice and patients. It includes helpful frameworks and actionable information on the key steps to integrate behavioral health care in your practice, as well as links to resources on topics relevant to your specific needs.

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What’s in the guide?

The BHI Compendium has 12 chapters (PDF) is broken into four parts.

Part 1: Basics. This section provides an overview of the Compendium, noting that it condenses an “abundance of carefully vetted, existing quality behavioral health resources” and is designed to meet practices wherever they are on their integration journey. It also acknowledges there are many ways to pursue behavioral health integration and many opportunities to modify such efforts as patient needs and practice resources evolve.

Part 2: BHI background. This section explains why behavioral health integration is important and discusses how your practice can benefit from it. Basic elements of the most common models of care are introduced, explaining that practices can implement a model as is, or in a combination that will work best for a specific practice.

Part 3: Getting started. Here, physicians will learn how to make the case for the value of implementing behavioral health integration and explore why it’s important when considering both the organization’s short-term and long-term goals. This section also includes tips and tools for assessing how ready your practice is to integrate behavioral health care.

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Lastly, this section outlines how your organization can establish key metrics of success. This includes discussing how to identify potential responsibilities for each care team member and links to help you identify national and local resources such as helplines for physicians and patients.

Part 4: Implementation. This section helps practices design a workflow. It also provides guidance and a number of links on how to prepare your care team, partner with your patients, financially sustain your integration effort and measure your overall progress and performance.

The BHI Collaborative has also created the “Overcoming Obstacles” webinar series to help physicians overcome key barriers to effective BHI in their practices,.

You also can learn more about AMA’s efforts to improve behavioral health care amid the current COVID-19 and beyond.