Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Behavioral Health Care
Reimagining behavioral health services and partnering with other organizations to increase access to mental health support remained a priority this past year. In 2021, the Specialized Treatments and Recovery Team (START) Program was launched to provide access to urgent mental health and addictions services. This innovative clinic collaborates with over 14 community partners to provide coordinated services to people with justice involvement and connect them to health care and social supports. Collective action through this partnership has delivered great results:
- A 38% reduction in county prison population over 10 years
- More than 1,400 emergency room diversions since June 2021
- A 93% decrease in wait times over traditional outpatient treatment
- An 88% decrease in inpatient admissions for Reentry Team clients (six months pre-incarceration vs. six months post-release)
Across our communities, we are reimagining behavioral health care and finding better ways to connect primary care and behavioral health teams to respond promptly to the needs of patients. This shared care model provides support for adults, teens and children five years and older. The shared care teams partner with 57 family medicine, internal medicine, geriatric, pediatric and sports medicine practices to serve our patients better by:
- Clarifying diagnoses
- Managing medications or alternatives to medicine
- Performing psychiatric evaluations
- Coordinating brief therapy sessions
- Connecting patients to long-term care as needed
WellSpan behavioral health experts also support community outreach and training that elevates awareness and equips community members to better recognize and respond to mental health illness and support those in crisis. We’ve also reimagined how we connect to our neighbors for support, expanding provision of virtual appointments for behavioral health.
The following activities are a few examples of our community-based behavioral health education and outreach:
Mental Health First Aid
Offered 12 training sessions, equipping 108 community members with skills needed to recognize and respond to signs of mental health illness and those in crisis.
Question, Persuade & Refer (QPR)
Trained 395 community members on the warning signs of suicidal crisis as well as how to respond and seek help.
Mental Health Awareness Classes
Created a video viewed by approximately 42 people that will be launched more widely in the coming year.
Parent Training for Family-Based Services
Reached 40 parents across the region with workshops to help create a healthy relationship with their children and deal with challenging behavior in a positive way.
Trained 102 individuals.
Suicide Prevention Campaign
More than 144 individuals participated in coordinated virtual and in-person suicide prevention activities.
Virtual Behavior Health Appointment
Conducted 107,557 behavioral health virtual appointments over the past year to improve access to care.
"During a rough spot in my life I was connected with services at START through York County’s Mental Health Court. I really struggled at first, there were some things I did not want to address. However, with the support of START, I was able to connect with a psychiatrist and therapist that helped me immediately.
"I was able to get referred to trauma therapy with their help and work with a great psychiatrist while waiting for a spot to open at another location for long-term services. Without their support and their agency, I would have continued to make poor decisions and use drugs, which would’ve led me back to prison."