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NEWS in Behavioral Health Integrated Care

In October 2020, eight physician organizations formed the BHI Collaborative with the mission of "empowering physicians and their care teams to improve the quality of care and expand patients’ access to behavioral health services." Last month, the group authored an article in Health AffairsCombating A Crisis By Integrating Mental Health Services And Primary Care, highlighting the benefits and challenges of integrating behavioral health with primary care.

Additionally, the authors call on policy makers to tackle funding, reimbursement rates and parity laws, and urge the use of telehealth and other digital tools “so long as it augments, rather than replaces, the longitudinal physician-patient relationship.”

Read the full article at the link above.

988 Crisis Hotline Rolled Out Nationally In July


Last month, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched nationally with the goal of making mental health care access easier. The 988 line replaces the former 10-digit number (although the 10-digit number remains active) as an easier, more memorable way for callers to get help. It's a joint effort by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SAMHSA has created an online page of resources, including a Partner Toolkit, to help communicate the new number.


Other workforce development news…


In California: Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 964, the Behavioral Health Workforce Revitalization Act, passed the Assembly Health Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan vote in June. It will now be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee in August.

SB 964 "increases California’s investment in its behavioral health workforce to retain workers, increase the size of the behavioral health workforce, and support behavioral health workers who are facing a significant increase in demand for services."


In Idaho: $66 million has been allocated over three years to "implement a sweeping array of changes and improvements to Idaho’s behavioral health care system." The plan, which focuses heavily on youth treatment centers, community crisis centers and the roll-out of the 988 hotline, also includes provisions for the behavioral healthcare workforce. Last fall, a task force developed a comprehensive plan for recruiting, training and retaining a workforce with "lived experiences." All 44 of Idaho’s counties are classified as behavioral health worker shortage areas. Read more in this article from The Idaho Press.


In Illinois: Lawmakers passed SB3617, which went into effect in July, and helps address the state's behavioral healthcare workforce shortage -- a deficit that was exacerbated by the stress and burnout from working during the pandemic. The approach includes early detection measures for the behavioral healthcare workforce. Read more.

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