There’s no way to separate physical, mental, and emotional health. They’re intertwined. One impacts the other. Modern science confirms it.
And yet, they’re often treated separately.
Cultural stigma about mental health and substance abuse makes it difficult for those suffering from these crippling issues to seek help. A medical system designed for speed with specialists siloed away from primary care makes it more difficult for behavioral health issues to be noticed.
What is behavioral health?
Behavioral health is the practice of promoting behaviors that contribute to mental and emotional well-being. Many people also expand it to the practice of helping people overcome substance abuse and addictions.
Because 20% of the population suffers from behavioral health issues, no healthcare model should ignore it. That’s why advanced primary care (APC) has been designed to provide whole person care, including behavioral health.
Why any primary care model must address behavioral health
The Vera APC model has proven that behavior change is the core driver of improved health outcomes (learn more about behavior change and APC). It also demonstrates that, while providers and care teams can support a patient, the patient must be the one who decides to make positive steps in their life.
Patients who suffer from unseen behavioral health issues find it difficult to get the help they need without visiting a specialist. And this decision isn’t easy considering the stigma they face. The problem is compounded if they face other health issues, which they will find significantly more difficult to address without solving the behavioral health issue first.
If, however, patients can get help for behavioral health issues within the trusted confines of a primary care relationship, outcomes improve for the following reasons:
Making behavioral health a normalized part of the primary care setting removes the stigma surrounding it, encouraging more patients to seek help.
Practicing whole person care that addresses physical, mental, and social health allows providers to better treat interconnected issues either alongside or in partnership with behavioral health experts.
Getting help for behavioral health issues will allow patients to more effectively shift their focus towards making positive changes that will impact their long-term health.
How Vera integrates behavioral health into the APC model
Vera’s APC model is built on a foundation of empathy. Providers and care teams are trained to esteem people through empathetic listening. Providers also spend significant time with patients, allowing them to build true relationships and explore issues beyond the symptoms that brought the patient into the care center.
These core elements of the APC model create two things:
Space to explore: Providers have the time to explore and uncover behavioral health issues with patients that may have gone unnoticed in the typical 7- to 12-minute doctor’s visit.
Safety and trust: Relationships built on empathy and trust create the safety necessary for patients to ask for help with a behavioral health issue when they are in a place to do that.
But, our model also acknowledges that the burden cannot fall solely on a provider to treat behavioral health issues. These issues are complex and often require specific expertise. In cases where this expertise is needed, care teams are able to coordinate care with a Behavioral Health Provider (BHP) to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate level of care that they need.
BHPs can either work alongside the provider or work with the member directly. And at every point of the way, the Vera care team can provide support from the care center, ensuring that the BHP’s treatment approach is supported in the member’s overall care plan.
This approach not only provides patients with the care they need at the moment but with long-term support that takes into consideration every aspect of their health: the physical, the mental, and the social.