WIHI: Integrating Physical and Behavioral Health

​Date: July 25, 2013


  • Benjamin Miller, PsyD, Assistant Professor and Director, Office of Integrated Healthcare Research and Policy, University of Colorado Denver
  • Brenda Reiss-Brennan, PhD, APRN, CS, Mental Health Integration Director, Primary Care Clinical Programs, Intermountain Health Care
  • Mara Huberlie, MA, Director of Project Implementation & Continuing Education, Greater Nashua Mental Health Center
  • Melissa Merrick, LCSW, CDC I, Administrator/BHC Clinical Supervisor - Medical Services Administration, Southcentral Foundation

The road to recognizing the impact of mental illness on the lives of patients and families, and society as a whole, has been an uneven one in the US. Even as battles are being won for benefit parity, and medications can now alleviate some of the worst suffering, the stigma of suffering from depression or some form of psychosis still has a lot of staying power. And most experts agree the supply of mental health professionals doesn’t begin to match the numbers of people in need of therapy and treatment. Against this backdrop, a new approach is emerging to bring mental health “in from the cold.”

This WIHI showcases leaders and organizations that are at the forefront of redesigning care for patients and populations in need of primary care and mental health services. By offering both, often in the same location, providers are more likely to help their patients connect the dots between body and mind, and improve underlying health problems in a more holistic fashion. Research has begun to demonstrate that this approach leads to improved chronic conditions and fewer trips to the ED.

However, just because something makes a lot of sense doesn’t mean there’s the infrastructure, the clinical training, or the payment system to effect these changes. That’s where places like Intermountain Health Care, Southcentral Foundation, and Greater Nashua Mental Health can be especially helpful: they’ve forged ahead with new models and hope that others can learn by their example. WIHI host Madge Kaplan leads the discussion of new ideas and thinking with Ben Miller, who has that big picture, and the expertise of Brenda Reiss-Brennan and Mara Huberlie.


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