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A Roadmap for Behavioral Health

New HHS report identifies key pillars to improve care

September 26, 2022

The concerning rates for mental health and substance use disorders have sparked a call-to-action in Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Last week, the federal government released its new strategy to address the nation’s behavioral health crisis, focusing on ways to better integrate care.

During 2020, as many as 52.9 million adults were affected by mental illness and 37.9 million were affected by substance use disorders. About 1 in 10 children between 3 and 17 had received mental health services during the past year, the report noted.

“In order to ensure equity in access to affordable, high-quality, culturally appropriate care for mental health and substance use, we must fully integrate behavioral health into the larger health care system and other systems,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement with the report’s release.

The report focuses on the following key areas:

  • The value of integrated care:  Integrating behavioral health across the health care system is critical to help identify a “whole person’s health care needs in a coordinated way.”
  • System capacity:  Treating behavioral health requires a strong workforce across the health system, including health care, social service, and early childhood providers.
  • Equity:  Addressing disparities requires the ability to customize care to meet diverse needs.
  • Access to care:  Improving coverage for behavioral health will remove a barrier preventing patients from receiving the care they need.
  • Healthy environments:  Creating healthier communities requires a focus on wellness and prevention of mental health and substance use disorders, as well as improved outcomes for people in recovery.

The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is available online.

HAP continues to advocate for initiatives at the state and federal level to support Pennsylvania’s behavioral health. This includes a focus on bolstering the behavioral health care workforce, supporting the collaborative care model, and improving care for people in crisis and hospitals’ ability to manage capacity.

Learn more about our efforts to support behavioral health.

For more information about behavioral health, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.