The WellSpan Spotlight

Mental health and wellbeing

WellSpan improves access to behavioral health services

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The need for behavioral health services continues to grow in Pennsylvania and across the country. To address the ongoing demand for care in our communities, WellSpan continues to make a significant investment to expand the health system’s behavioral health services.

The heightened awareness during Mental Health Awareness Month in May is an opportunity to share how important it is to focus on mental health and well-being. Whatever a person’s needs or challenges are, WellSpan’s dedicated and compassionate doctors, clinicians and team members will walk alongside them on the journey toward hope, healing, and wholeness.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed an increasing need for mental health care to the forefront in recent years, the need for services has really grown over the past decade,” said Dr. Ken Rogers, vice president and chief medical officer, WellSpan Behavioral Health.

“That increased need for services, combined with a nationwide shortage of health care professionals, continues to make the challenge significant. WellSpan is focused on taking action to address that head-on in the communities we serve.”

WellSpan offers a continuum of behavioral health care for children, adolescents, and adults in inpatient, outpatient, and community settings – by adding and adjusting services to meeting current needs and by cultivating great partnerships in our local communities.

At the same time, WellSpan is also focused on expanding access to a critical behavioral health need – crisis services. WellSpan is accomplishing that in several ways, but maybe most noticeably before someone enters an emergency department in crisis.

WellSpan is actively working with community partners to expand the offering of crisis services when they occur – to encourage a person experiencing crisis to talk with a trained counselor.  WellSpan has implemented mobile crisis response teams that offer 24/7 on-site response – in homes and in the community - to individuals in crisis in Adams, Lebanon and York counties.

WellSpan has also partnered on a new crisis walk-in center in Lebanon, right across the street from WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital. The new center offers improved access to patients who may be experiencing a crisis.

Behavioral health bridge services for youth in York and Adams counties are available, making the trajectory of young people’s lives more positive now and for the future. 

In the event a person does come to the hospital in crisis, WellSpan has added behavioral health units in emergency departments in three of its hospitals. These units allow WellSpan to improve care time for people in crisis.

“We believe that 80 percent of people who come in contact with WellSpan when they are having a mental health or substance use crisis do not need care at a hospital emergency department. They can receive better and faster care when they are served in the community, rather than in a hospital setting,” Dr. Rogers said.

WellSpan is increasing the use of telemedicine, with about 60 percent of patient visits now conducted virtually. To put that in perspective, WellSpan teams provided an average of nearly 12,000 virtual appointments a month for the first nine months of this current fiscal year.

Utilizing telemedicine, or virtual care, has increased access and patients today are more willing to engage because of the added convenience and positive experience.

A new virtual initiative that WellSpan has implemented is the offering of collaborative care in its primary care practices through a partnership with Concert Health, a leading virtual behavioral health provider. Collaborative care is an evidence-based model proven to identify and improve behavioral health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, within medical settings.

Earlier this year WellSpan entered a partnership with KeyCare, a leading providing of virtual healthcare services. With KeyCare’s behavioral health solution, WellSpan patients can access online psychiatry and therapy care in significantly less time than national averages.

WellSpan continues efforts to address substance addiction across our system of care. At WellSpan’s START Clinic in York, an integrated care experience is provided for patients with urgent mental health and addiction needs that surrounds them with the resources and services they need in an appropriate setting, reducing trips to the emergency department.

START, which stands for Specialized Treatment and Recovery Team, is an innovative one-stop clinic that increases access to mental health and substance use screenings and services, as well as providing referrals to support services and working closely with community partners to ensure patients have what they need for a successful plan of care.

For more information on WellSpan’s behavioral health services, visit And Treatments/Behavioral and Mental Health Care.