At one end of the healthcare spectrum are those with serious physical problems who may also suffer from a mild to moderate mental illness. Their recovery would be enhanced if they received concomitant treatment for mental health as well as their physical condition. There is an effort to bring mental health treatment into medical outpatient settings such as Federally Qualified Health Centers. Recent change in Department of Health regulations reduces one barrier to this path.
At the other end of the spectrum are those with serious, mental illnesses who are, nationally, dying 25 years sooner than the general population. New Jersey has several projects through SAMHSA funding and the Department of Human Services to incorporate physical health into mental health settings. Projects such as Behavioral Health Homes, at least seven integrated health pilot grants, and a SAMHSA planning grant to create Comprehensive Community Behavioral Health Clinics are attempts to meet this need. Sustainability is the huge challenge to sustaining these pilots.
While problems still need to be overcome, energy and effort are being directed toward developing an integrated system.
Success with high risk populations will reduce pain and suffering, lower costs, decrease the need for emergency room visits and provide the opportunity for people to make decisions about their own care as well as important lifestyle choices.
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey strives for