Why behavioral health integration matters

Behavioral health is an essential aspect of whole-person care. Because the mind and body are connected, mental and physical health conditions often go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression increases the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. In the same way, chronic conditions can lead to mental illnesses.1

What is behavioral health integration?

Behavioral health integration — also known as whole-person care — blends the treatment of physical and mental conditions in one setting. Primary care providers are able to screen for mental health symptoms when seeing patients.

Why is integrated healthcare important?

More than 57 million adults in the United States have a mental illness and only about 47% of them, receive mental health services.2 Bringing behavioral care to the primary care doctor's office improves behavioral health access and outcomes across age, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.3

Behavioral health integration is preventive healthcare

The main goal of Advanced Primary Care is prevention and early intervention. Keeping people healthy today and preventing disease reduces the need for more expensive interventions in the future. Early identification of mental illnesses is also an important part of prevention. That's why we see behavioral health as part of the primary care model.

Mental health support for older or chronically ill populations

Older adults and people with chronic illnesses may have greater behavioral health needs than others.

A chronic condition affects not only the body but can also lead to mental health challenges. Similarly, the challenges of aging bring higher rates of behavioral health disorders. Many older adults face stress due to financial insecurity or loneliness as adult children move away or become busy with their families and careers. Behavioral health integration can address these symptoms before they become more significant problems.  

What are the benefits of integrated behavioral healthcare?

With behavioral health integration, patients benefit from a team led by a primary care doctor with nurses, specialists, social workers, and behavioral health experts providing guidance and support. They work together to help ensure patients get the care they need when it matters most. This can result in:

  • Better patient outcomes.
  • Higher treatment rates.
  • Increased patient satisfaction.
  • Lower cost to patients.
  • More efficient and coordinated care.

Whole-person health needs a Healthy Start

Our Healthy StartTM assessment reviews a person's medical, behavioral, and social needs. The evaluation runs from 45 minutes to an hour — much longer than the typical 15- to 20-minute doctor visit — and can be followed by additional appointments in a care center, virtually, or at home.

Carelon Health's approach to whole-person care

A key feature of Carelon Health's Advanced Primary Care is seamless integration with behavioral health services. Through our sister company, Carelon Behavioral Health , we can provide referrals to a behavioral health clinician, meeting health plan members' immediate assessment or treatment needs.

If you'd like to learn more about how we deliver personalized, whole-person care that ensures better outcomes, visit our About Us page.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Mental Health (accessed June 2023): cdc.gov. 
2 National Institute of Mental Health: Mental Illness (accessed June 2023): nimh.nih.gov.
3 The Commonwealth Fund: Integrating Primary Care and Behavioral Health to Address the Behavioral Health Crisis (accessed June 2023): commonwealthfund.org.