Behavioral health care includes care for patients around mental health and substance abuse conditions, health behavior change, life stresses and crises, and stress-related physical symptoms. Mental and substance use disorders alone have been estimated to surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide by 2020. The literature recognizes the importance of the health care system effectively addressing behavioral health conditions. Recently, there has been a call for the use of the primary care delivery platform and the related patient-centered medical home model to effectively address these conditions. This position paper focuses on the issue of better integration of behavioral health into the primary care setting. It provides an environmental scan of the current state of conditions included in the concept of behavioral health and examines the arguments for and barriers to increased integration into primary care. It also examines various approaches of integrated care delivery and offers a series of policy recommendations that are based on the reviewed information and evidence to inform the actions of the American College of Physicians and its members regarding advocacy, research, and practice.
Ann Intern Med. Published online 30 June 2015 doi:10.7326/M15-0510