Essentially, over the next three years, TriHealth wants to have mental health professionals at each of its primary care providers. This would grant mental healthcare access to more patients and ensure that folks don’t have to use a different practice if they have concerns about their mental health.
TriHealth officials believe this grassroots-style focus on mental health has been needed for quite some time, and that need has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The mental health system in this country is broken,” said Dr. Dallas Auvil, the coordinator for TriHealth’s plan. “The psychological and emotional effects of the pandemic brought to light the growing health crisis in our country that has too often been overlooked, undertreated, and underfunded.”
TriHealth said it hopes to be able to proactively identify patients’ mental health care needs by integrating mental health assessments in primary care offices and employing more behavioral health professionals to provide necessary care during a checkup.
Doing so “...allows providers to treat the behavioral health issues, and any underlying health issues, all in [one] multidisciplinary outpatient setting,” the company said in a release.
“The idea and the hope is that it’s going to streamline [the process] so that if there is a potential mental health issue, that patient or that child is able to get the helo that they need faster,” said Tom Lange, a TriHealth spokesperson.
TriHealth cited studies that show one in four adults are currently dealing with a mental health condition. Further, the pandemic had quite the impact on kids and their mental health, as mental health-related hospitalizations for kids increased by 163% from 2020 to 2021.
“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, behavioral health needs have significantly grown in all patient populations, and research indicates this trend will continue,” the company said.
Lange said the plan is meant to put the care providers in a better position to help with varying degrees of mental health problems. TriHealth’s on-site mental health professionals could theoretically begin treating less acute conditions then and there. For folks in crisis, the primary care offices would be able to contact the appropriate care.
“The hope is that, whatever the case is going to be, there’s going to be a resource there to address that,” Lange said.