“What’s going on in the mind and what’s going on in the body are inter-related.”
Mindy Klowden, Director of the Office of Healthcare Transformation at Jefferson Mental Health says the Union Square Health Home aims to integrate physical and mental health care. Union Square is a collaboration between Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Metro Community Provider Network and Arapaho House (a substance abuse provider organization) and is a fully integrated health-care home “that really helps people to focus on improving their overall health, not just their mental health.”
Klowden says that a lot of behavioral health integration efforts focus on bringing mental health providers into a primary care setting “what we’re doing is saying that for many people with serious mental illness, they view the mental health center as their health care home, and therefor we need to make sure we are addressing their full range of health needs.” To that end, Union Square offers preventive care, primary care, substance abuse, wellness services in addition to mental health care.
Research shows that people with serious mental illness die 25 years younger than people without mental health issues. When there is a co-occurring substance abuse issue, Klowden says it’s an even greater difference “it’s largely due to preventable conditions, it’s not for the most part suicide, which is what people would assume. It’s actually that folks have chronic health conditions and having a substance abuse problem and a mental health condition exacerbates those physical health issues and makes it harder and more complex for them to do chronic disease self management.”
Union Square tries to improve those statistics by integrating mental health care and physical health care by giving people fully integrated services that looks at “how what’s going on in the mind and what’s going on in the body are inter-related.”