Young Girl Talking With Counselor

New Clinic Supports Children’s Primary and Behavioral Health Needs

Did you know half of all chronic mental health conditions develop by age 14? Despite increased awareness and effective treatments, children still struggle to find appropriate care. Thankfully, the Royal Oak-based Judson Center has been addressing the unmet needs of those affected by ongoing mental illness since 1996.

Judson Center provides mental health services to both children and adults in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. This includes in-home treatment and multiple outpatient behavioral health clinics. They cover a wide range of diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, and mild intellectual disabilities. Judson Center is also a vital resource for individuals seeking counseling for substance use disorder.

Judson Center recently launched the Judson Center Family Health Clinic adjacent to its Behavioral Health facility in Warren to offer integrated primary health care (PHC) and behavioral health care (BHC) services to its 1,000-plus patients – two-thirds of whom are children.  Start-up operations are funded in part by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Carls Foundation, DeRoy Testamentary Foundation, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, which awarded a $25,000 grant to support the new clinic.

“Individuals with behavioral health challenges have a life expectancy of 10-25 years less than the general population,” explained Susan Salhaney, Chief Operating Officer at Judson Center. “They are [also] 3 to 5 times more likely to die of treatable conditions like heart disease, pneumonia, diabetes, and respiratory ailments.” Although physical and mental health are inextricably intertwined, primary care providers rarely work closely with behavioral health practitioners, and vice versa. 

The Family Health Clinic aims to change this narrative by treating patients’ physical, psychological, and social needs all at one location. With this integrated plan, the PHC and BHC teams can ensure no one falls through the cracks. “The outpatient clinic also has a classroom that will be used for wellness programs and psycho-education groups for both primary care and behavioral health patients,” said Salhaney. “One such group has already started.”

For the Judson Center Family Health Clinic, location is key. Macomb County is a medically underserved area with an overall poverty rate of 11.7 percent. The clinic provides critical health care to not only existing clients but the surrounding community. Approximately 90 percent of its patients are low-income and about 65 percent are children age 17 and under.

Overall, the integrated treatment model will help remove financial barriers and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Judson Center predicts several positive outcomes including a decline in health costs via reduced ER visits and hospital admissions. With an increase in patients, the service should be self-sustainable within three years. 

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Photo credit: monkeybusinessimages

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