Mental Health & Substance Use

Expanding to a Broader Behavioral Health Focus

This month, we conclude our mission statement series by focusing on the final element that has changed: a shift beyond mental health care only to a broader focus on behavioral health services.
What does the term behavioral health mean at Telecare?

For us, it means a combined approach to mental health and substance use treatment. It also means looking at behavioral change as a path toward greater health.
Why are we doing this?
Because people need it and deserve it.
According to SAMSHA, more than 7.9 million people have a serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use issue. These are the people who fall through the cracks. Their needs are not being well met because the substance use and mental health systems are typically siloed, making it hard to get integrated care.
People, however, aren’t siloed. Substance use and mental health issues are interrelated—and must be treated in tandem. Our new mission statement reflects our commitment to this vision and work.
The good news is that, for now, there are many positives to be grateful for that are helping our industry to move in this direction. The policy and funding environments have shifted to be more holistic. Parity is creating balance and equity between physical health, mental health, and substance use treatment. And Medicaid, as it stands currently, has offered greater hope and treatment for the poor to get access to substance use care.
We know there is much more to do and more change ahead, but we are excited to be on our way.
We look forward to talking with you about these approaches, and with luck, partnering to push them forward.

Until next month, we wish you all the best,
Faith Richie, SVP of Development, Telecare

Mission Priorities: Behavioral Health

Telecare’s new mission statement is moving us forward on many fronts: healtheffectiveness, and complex needs. But it’s also intended to move us forward in the care of people with behavioral health needs, including serious mental illness (SMI) and co-occurring substance use issues.

By Anne Bakar, Telecare President & CEO

At Telecare, we estimate that at least 75% of the people we serve have a serious mental illness and a co-occurring substance use issue.

At least 75%.

That means that at least 75% of our clients are trying to manage two very daunting recovery challenges. At least 75% are at risk of having their lives cut short because of poorly coordinated care in siloed treatment settings. At least 75% may be facing shame, stigma, and punitive program rules that make it hard for them to be honest about their lives and get the help they need.
This is unacceptable. As a result, our new mission statement reflects our focus on an integrated and evidenced-based approach to substance use treatment.

We are focusing on bridging systems and closing gaps in care by training our staff about evidenced-based approaches to integrated care. This includes things like motivational interviewing and recognizing there are “stages of change” in substance use recovery: times when clients are ready to consider treatment for their addiction and times when they are not.
In addition to training staff about new tools and interventions, we are introducing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to our practice. This is a vital intervention that we are well suited to provide as a professional organization with a wholly owned Physician Services Organization led by Dr. Jeff Gould. Consistent with this direction, we recently completed a pilot program on how detox could be accomplished through outpatient telemedicine.
In this month’s newsletter, you will learn more about how we are moving this aspect of our mission forward. You can read about our three-year SUDS plan, meet our new SUDS Director, and get more detail about these new approaches.
We hope you enjoy this preview, and we look forward to sharing our learning and growth.

SUDS: Expanding Treatment at Telecare

Our Plan for Building Skills, Staff, Practices & Programming

In January 2017, Telecare finalized a three-year plan to enrich and expand our substance use disorder services (SUDS) capabilities, with a specific focus on people who have a serious mental illness (SMI) and co-occurring substance use issues.  
How is Telecare's integrated approach to substance use treatment different than what is available currently?

"Traditional substance use agencies are not necessarily prepared to serve people who have SMI," said Faith Richie, SVP of Development. "We have a 50-year history of working with SMI and complex needs and in the last few years, have made major steps forward in our ability to recruit, retain and support licensed staff, particularly psychiatrists, through our TLC Physician Services Organization. This will make it easier for us to step into more direct SUDS care, deliver Medication Assisted Treatment, and meet all of the site certification and staff licensing requirements to do this work and do it well."

We are pleased to introduce the highlights of this plan here and will continue to share enhancements and updates as we move forward in this work. Please click here to go to the full article.

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The American Health Care Act continues to evolve. Click here to find your senator and talk to them about how the population we serve in their states would be adversely affected by this proposal.