Historically, mental health care and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment have been siled. But as new research emerges about the importance of integrated care, providers are placing a new emphasis on treating patients holistically.
Allina Health, for example, is looking to break down the barriers between mental health and SUD care with its new Center for Integrated Mental Health and Addiction Care. The center aims to help patients access services for multiple behavioral health conditions simultaneously.
“For a long time, unfortunately, we’ve been taught that we can help your depression once you’ve established sobriety, and things like that, which we know clinically are not the best care,” Brian Palmer, vice president of mental health and addiction services at Allina Health, Behavioral Health Business said. “We know that if we treat mental illness and addiction at the same time, we help both get better faster, and [patients] have a longer-term recovery.”
The new center will be located in Fridley, Minnesota, and will be attached to Allina Health’s Mercy Hospital. The 50,000-square-foot treatment facility will include outpatient services and intensive day programs. The new center is funded by Allina Health’s philanthropic team.
Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Allina Health is a not-for-profit health system that has more than 90 clinics, 10 hospitals and 15 retail pharmacies in its network.
Allina Health is using a partnership model to deploy services at the new center. For example, Canvas Health will provide emergency mental health and addiction services. Touchstone Mental Health will provide crisis beds on the center’s campus.
The center will also address social determinants of health issues through a collaborative model. Southern Anoka County Community Assistance will provide food assistance, with Anoka County Social Services offering access to other county programs. In addition, the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing will focus on providing care for the whole person.
Patients often struggle to navigate both the health care system and accessing community resources, such as food pantries, Palmer said. Co-locating resources for behavioral health and holistic wellness can help foster holistic care.
“I think in 10 years we’ll look back and say we’ve realized that mental health is essential to driving population health and increasing the value of health care,” Palmer said.
Integrating mental health care, SUD treatment, and community resources also makes financial sense in the long run.
“We’ve spent a lot of time looking at health economics and if we bundle this type of care, can we reduce overall health care costs by improving the quality of care we provide and reducing the unnecessary and inappropriate use of health care resources that often happens, when people don’t have access,” Palmer said. “If we can really get the whole system … to integrate together, we think we can add value to the process — and we’re going to measure that.”
Construction of the new facility will begin in 2023. The health system plans to open in 2024.
“We know that creating greater access to mental health and addiction services is an important priority for the communities we serve in Minnesota and throughout our region,” Lisa Shannon, president and CEO of Allina Health, said in a statement. “We know we do better when we work together, and this groundbreaking facility delivers critical programs in one location, transforming our ability to provide patient-centered care and expanding our capacity for mental health and addiction patients and their families.” ”