It’s time to step up to the plate if you’re interested in providing clear and concise information about how best to integrate primary and acute healthcare with behavioral health care for folks with serious mental illnesses in Arizona.  One of our top priorities in behavioral health over the coming years will be to better integrate physical health and mental health/substance abuse services in Arizona.  Why is this a priority you ask?  It’s because folks with the most serious mental illnesses die at least 25-30 years earlier than the average Arizonan.  Physical and mental illnesses are often linked- and when left untreated, folks can experience lost productivity, unsuccessful relationships, significant distress and dysfunction; it can also affect how well they care for their kids.  You can check out several recent blog posts on this topic for more information about where we’ve been and where we’re going.

 One of the ideas that our interagency integration steering committee has been exploring over the last several weeks is shifting to a service model that includes contracting with managed care organization(s) to serve as a Specialty Regional Behavioral Health Authority that would also include a health home for folks with serious mental illness.  The initial idea includes the potential for moving ahead with this new model as we implement the next major behavioral health contract in Maricopa County beginning October 1, 2013.

 The team is inviting interested folks and organizations to provide concise input over the next few weeks by replying to our newly released Request for Information.  In addition, our team has put together a nifty integration website that provides a cornucopia of data and information about integrating primary and acute healthcare with behavioral health care.  On the main page, you can click on the icon for the Specialty RBHA and follow along as work continues on the health home planning grant and the research into a Specialty RBHA.  Additional Stakeholder input will be getting underway in the coming weeks and months as well.