Collaborative Care Addresses the Surging Demand for Mental Health Care Services
by Deborah Reinheimer
| 3 min read
It’s not an exaggeration to say there is a mental health crisis in the United States. The need for mental health services continues to rise, particularly since the COVID pandemic. Most mental health professionals are at capacity, creating an urgent backlog and long wait lists for patients to be seen.
In an American Psychological Association survey of practitioners, six in 10 respondents said they have no openings for new patients. Yet, nearly 80% of respondents reported an increase in the number of patients with anxiety disorders, and 66% reported an increase in demand for depression treatment since the beginning of the pandemic.
With the rise in anxiety and depression, the Collaborative Care program offers a solution. In the Collaborative Care model, primary care practices integrate mental health services into their practices. Patients have quicker, more direct access to behavioral health specialists through the same office where they receive regular health care.
The primary care physician works with a mental health care worker and a consulting psychiatrist to develop a mental health plan that fits each patient’s needs.
"This model of Collaborative Care allows for patients and primary care providers to have access to psychiatric recommendations promptly and in a less stigmatizing way. I love how we work as a team to help patients receive the most effective care,” said Dayna Le Platte, M.D., a consulting psychiatrist with the Collaborative Care program. “There is a shortage of mental health providers, and this model makes mental health more accessible. If someone has a mental health concern, they can continue to stay in [the primary care office] and get the evidence-based care that they need.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan began working with physician organizations across the state a few years ago to develop and implement the Collaborative Care program. In September 2022, Blue Cross announced Collaborative Care designations for 213 physician practices, located in 33 counties throughout the state including the Upper Peninsula. Designated practices have put systems in place to evaluate, treat and monitor patients’ mental health within the practice.
Ashley McClain, LMSW, supervises the Collaborative Care program within Michigan Medicine physician practices, and has witnessed great success from the care model.
“We’re able to provide another level of support to patients,” she said. “They’re learning coping strategies, behavior activation, different things they can do. They can be lifelong changing interventions. I’ve had patients just thank us for the support we’ve been able to get them from the program.”
Learn more about the ways Blue Cross is ready to help support members and the community with mental health care here.
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