Integrating Physical Health Care in Behavioral Health Agencies in Rural Pennsylvania

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

As states and communities undertake efforts to integrate physical health and behavioral health services, it is critical to understand how these efforts are organized and implemented. This study examined the early implementation of the Behavioral Health Home Plus program in two county behavioral health agencies in rural Pennsylvania. With support from a behavioral health managed care organization, each agency hired a registered nurse, provided training for its case managers and peer specialists in wellness coaching, and used a web-based tool for tracking consumer outcomes. Findings suggest that agencies successfully trained their staffs in wellness coaching, integrated registered nurses into agency functions, developed care planning processes that incorporate physical and behavioral health goals, and increased awareness and knowledge of physical health and wellness among behavioral health staff and consumers.

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