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Federally Qualified Health Centers and Integrated Behavioral Health Care: What Happens When They Come Together

March 29, 2022

Integrating behavioral health (BH) services into the medical home is clearly beneficial, as highlighted by a meta-analysis published last year in Pediatrics.  How feasible is BH integration in settings that provide care to underserved communities? Sheldrick et al from Boston University (10.1542/peds.2021-051822) describe behavioral health integration in 3 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Massachusetts in a study being early released this month in Pediatrics.

The authors reviewed more than 47,000 well-child visits over two years for children 30 days of age to 19 years to determine whether integrated BH services was associated with (1) better detection of BH issues, (2) improved delivery of services, and (3) reduced need for psychotropic medications. The report has a special focus on ADHD. The authors described their model for BH intergradation: Transforming and Expanding Access to Mental Health Care in Urban Pediatrics (TEAM UP).

Rather than reveal the richness of the results reported in this study, please link to the article to see for yourself the substantive improvements in screening, service delivery, and outcome measures obtained with implementation of the TEAM UP program. Some may surprise you, and the discussion of findings is well worth your attention.

After reading this study, I suspect you will want to implement a similar program for families living in underserved communities where you practice.

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