Co-Producing Health Decisions for Families at the Interface of Behavioral Health and Primary Care 

Nicholas Carson

 “Integrated care” is a healthcare approach that embeds mental health providers in primary care settings to provide timely consultation to families. Integration care is listed in CHA’s “2020 Areas of Focus” and is supported by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Such innovative approaches to whole population systems of care are especially important for low-income youth and families, who often suffer poor access to mental health services and low quality treatment once they reach care. These are predominantly the families we serve at CHA. Much research now shows that prevention and early intervention in pediatric behavioral health care lead to health and cost benefits down the road. My CHA-Gold Innovation project aims to engage clinicians, patients and families in the co-production of a successful model of child psychiatry integration that provides families with the best experience of care. While plans for child psychiatry integration at CHA are coalescing quickly, pediatricians are expressing concern over difficulties accessing high quality and readily available consultation. My fellowship year will engage families with mental health need who are receiving primary care at CHA in a discussion of our plans for integration. We will use in-depth interviews and local Family Advisory Groups at CHA to engage these families. Referrals to mental health are never simple and low-income families face many barriers to reaching good mental health care. We will consider new uses of the electronic health record (EHR) and other technologies to give families the information they prioritize in understanding mental health treatment and achieving the best health outcomes for their children.