The Integration of Behavioral Health into Pediatric Primary Care Settings
Project LAUNCH grantee evaluations demonstrated that a range of strategies can lead to greater integration of behavioral health services in pediatric primary care settings, including training primary care providers in developmental and social-emotional screenings; establishing enhanced referral and care coordination systems; providing parenting education and support groups; and embedding infant and early childhood mental health consultants in primary care settings. These strategies are associated with positive outcomes in Project LAUNCH sites, including increased screening and early referrals from primary care providers; increased patient, family and provider satisfaction; and improved social-emotional functioning among children.
In implementing these various strategies, the Project LAUNCH grantees revealed the following lessons that are key to successful behavioral health integration efforts:
■ Providers must be met “where they are” to establish long-lasting changes.
■ Behavioral health resources and enhanced referral systems facilitate provider buy-in for transitioning to an integrated model.
■ Embedding mental health consultants supports higher screening rates, increased provider and patient satisfaction, and improved children’s social-emotional functioning.
■ Leveraging existing infrastructure is key to ensuring integration efforts lead to sustained change.