HHS released a road map for behavioral health integration

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  • HHS road map provides initiatives within the three pillars of the “Presidents Strategy” to integrate behavioral health and substance abuse care into larger systems.  
  • A SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) report stated that in 2020, 52.9 million adults in the U.S. were affected by mental illness. 
  • The strategy also intends to increase pay parity and access to mental health care as efforts in Congress stall out.  

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a road map outlining strategies for integrating behavioral health and substance abuse care into larger systems. This plan includes several programs and tailored efforts to engage high-risk populations in integrated mental health care. 

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report, in 2020, the past-year prevalence of any mental illness among adults in the United States (U.S.) was 21%, meaning that 52.9 million adults were affected by mental illness.  

The road map intends to lead significant initiatives stated in President Biden´s Strategy to Address our National Mental Health Crisis (President´s Strategy) to improve the U.S. behavioral health landscape. The strategy also intends to increase pay parity and access to mental health care as efforts in Congress stall out. 

HHS road map for behavioral health integration  

The road map states integrated care as a core component of the HHS strategy. This set action plans and further steps the HHS will take to transform behavioral care delivery in the U.S.  

The document highlights policy approaches for each pillar of the President´s Strategy. These pillars are strengthening system capacity, connecting Americans to care, and supporting Americans by creating healthy environments. The HHS aims to address these barriers and fully integrate behavioral health care.  

The report states that “the full spectrum of behavioral health care will be integrated into health care, social service, and early childhood systems to ensure all people have equitable access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, person-centered care.”  

According to the HHS report, the major challenges to behavioral health integration are:  
  • Structural support for siloed care.  
  • Stigma and mistrust.  
  • Limited adoption of technology.  
  • Inconsistent use of data and evidence. 
  • Insufficient investment in promotion and prevention. 
  • Insurance and financing limitations. 
  • Workforce challenges.  
  • Inequitable engagement of underserved populations.  

This HHS road map represents the Department’s reinvigorated commitment to using every resource available to achieve the President’s vision for transforming the U.S. behavioral health system. These efforts include collaboration with other departments, Congress, states, localities, and non-governmental stakeholders.  

Read the complete road map here: HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration Issue Brief.  

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