Industry insights

September 22, 2023

Transforming Behavioral Health Through Evidence-Based Care

Transforming Behavioral Health Through Evidence-Based Care

At the Council’s second Crucial Conversations event on August 10 members heard from a panel of healthcare experts making waves in the behavioral health industry who discussed the stark challenges in accessing equitable mental healthcare and how their organizations are using innovative, evidence-based practices to connect patients to essential services.

Panelists included J.R. Greene, chief executive officer of Psychiatric Medical Care; Marjorie Morrison, chief executive officer and co-founder of Psych Hub; and David Guth, chief executive officer of Centerstone. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Kevin Simon, chief behavioral health officer at the Boston Public Health Commission.

Here are four key insights from the discussion:

  1. When practitioners specialize and apply evidence-based practices, everyone wins. “Mental health is not one thing,” said Morrison. “Behavioral health bleeds into everything, so we can’t treat everyone the same, but we come out of school as mental health generalists. And it’s very hard for the consumer, because when they have a specific need, they want to find someone who can treat that particular symptom. When practitioners use evidence-based practices, the consumer gets better care and better symptom reduction in fewer sessions. When practitioners specialize, there’s much less burnout because they’re honing their craft. And they deliver better care and lower the total cost of care, because when mental health improves, physical health is better, too.”
  2. Adding psychiatry for medication management with therapy yields better results. “Based on evidence-based practices, we’ve seen the combination of involving a psychiatrist for med management plus therapy yields far better results for the patient,” said Greene. “Various medical manuscripts report an 80% chance of not experiencing an additional level of depression post-treatment if you’re receiving therapy and medication management. If you’re only receiving therapy, that drops to 36%.” Bringing in the expertise of a psychiatrist also addresses issues of polypharmacy – something everyone from payers to providers want to address.
  1. The psychiatric workforce shortage continues to be one of the greatest challenges in healthcare. In rural communities and public schools, the need is particularly evident. “One of the most poignant barriers to mental healthcare access in rural communities is the lack of psychiatrists,” said Guth, who described how Centerstone is placing therapists in public schools to work with kids and teachers to develop strategies and skills and support collaborative care goals.

“We know we will have a 15,000 to 30,000 practitioner shortage in the next few years and 150 million people who live in these particularly rural mental health deserts,” added Greene. “We have to open up more slots in medical schools and need policies in states like Tennessee that allow nurse practitioners to do more.”

  1. Telehealth can help improve access to care. “If you’re living in a rural community and seeking care, you want to talk to someone you can relate to you – who isn’t related to you,” said Guth. “Connecting patients with someone they can personally relate to is critically important. For us, that’s been about going upstream and thoughtfully analyzing our staffing situation. We ask ourselves, ‘How do we create an environment within our organization that is inclusive and supportive of individuals of a whole host of diversity?’ In the end, that’s what addresses access to care.’”

Crucial Conversations is a new Council series that provides opportunities for members to hear from panelists and keynote speakers on the cutting edge of healthcare trends, actively participate in small group discussions and build connections that can help address some of the industry’s most pressing issues.

Learn more about the healthcare industries hottest topics and mingle with fellow members at the Council’s upcoming events. Don’t forget registration for Nashville Healthcare Sessions is open to Council members until September 1! Register at this link or visit to view the conference schedule.

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