Montgomery Cares patients can access integrated behavioral health services at several clinics, including those partnering with the Montgomery Cares Behavioral Health Program (MCBHP). The program began in 2005 in response to the high prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders among Montgomery Cares patients. The PCC’s behavioral health staff is composed of bilingual care managers—licensed mental health professionals or RNs with mental health training, family support workers, and part-time consulting psychiatrists. These care teams are embedded at safety-net primary care clinics. Their role is to partner with primary care providers and clinics to identify, diagnose, and treat patients with common behavioral health diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The behavioral health staff also screens for and works with people who are struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence, and severe mental illness. Treatment for these diagnoses may not occur in the primary care setting, but the MCBHP staff work with patients to connect them to services.
In 2011, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry published an article entitled “Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Low-Income Immigrants in Primary Care” about the MCBHP. Co-authors included Jennifer Pauk, PCC MCBHP Director; Carol Alter, Director of Policy and Community Outreach, Georgetown University Medical Center; and Stacey Kaltman, Associate Professor, Georgetown University Medical Center. Access the article here: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Article.
Also In 2011, the Montgomery Cares Behavioral Health Program was honored by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Health as an example of a Maryland program exemplifying Health Care Innovation.