Treating behavioral health to boost patients’ overall outcomes

There’s an increasing recognition of the connection between the mind and body, and an understanding that integrating behavioral health care leads to better health and care for people with chronic diseases such as substance-use disorder, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and more.


Patients receiving this kind of integrated care are happier and healthier because they’re tackling the root causes that negatively affect their overall health. And studies show that implementation of this approach can lead in the long run to lower costs for health care systems, payers and society as a whole.

To help physicians implement whole-patient care, the AMA established the Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) Collaborative with seven other leading medical associations. The collaborative supports physicians in overcoming obstacles to integrating behavioral and mental health care into their primary care practices and help meet the needs of more patients. The goal is for patients to receive mental health care that is coordinated by the primary care office whether in collaboration with a psychiatrist or other mental health professionals.

A recent BHI Collaborative webinar, “Bolstering Chronic Care Management with Behavioral Health Integration,” explores the relationship between physical and behavioral and mental health, the impact each has on a patient’s overall health and how practices can use BHI to help manage, treat and address acute and chronic conditions.

During the webinar, physician speakers shared real-world examples of how their practices have integrated behavioral health care to bolster the care they provide for patients with chronic conditions.

Internist Edwin C. Chapman, MD, discussed his Washington, D.C., practice’s experiences with integrating behavioral health care to help treat adult patients, including seniors, with substance-use disorders.

Meanwhile, Chicago family physician Sreela Namboodiri, MD, shared how integrated behavioral health care at the Heartland Health Centers, a federally qualified health center with 18 locations in Chicago, has improved her patients’ lives.

This article was originally published on on May 03, 2021.
Written by: Tanya Albert Henry