Initiative seeks to aid providers' treatment of behavioral health
We recently interviewed Dr. Lindsey Jasinski, chief administrative officer of the Eastern State Hospital campus, about an exciting new initiative to address the increased behavioral health challenges that Kentuckians currently face.
Behavioral Health Community of Practice will benefit all Kentuckians by supplying primary care providers with increased access to resources and best practices to address the added stressors experienced by many through the COVID-19 pandemic. These training sessions, led by mental health experts, will enable Kentucky’s primary care providers to better support patients’ behavioral health concerns.
What current healthcare challenges will Community of Practice address?
Dr. Jasinski: The behavioral health impacts of the pandemic are notable, and providers everywhere are seeing increased numbers of individuals either in crisis or at risk of becoming in crisis due to behavioral health needs. Meanwhile, providers are busier than ever, making it difficult to find time to fully research and effectively translate best practices in a new specialty area into primary care and other healthcare areas. The goal of the COP is to help providers implement evidence-based screenings, assessments, and interventions into their practice to address the rising behavioral health needs effectively in their community.
Are there any statistics you can share about the number of individuals in Kentucky or the US that are impacted by behavioral health challenges?
Dr. Jasinski: The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that nearly 746,000 adults in Kentucky have a mental health condition, and more than 43% of Kentucky adults in 2021 reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. Further, Kentucky’s youth have seen a significant increase (by 28%) in mental health needs throughout the pandemic. Nationally, more than half of Americans report that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
Similar concerning trends have been noted with suicide and substance use in Kentucky and nationally. While needs are growing, access to care remains a concern. Nationally, more than half of people with mental health needs did not access care in the prior year, often because of the costs and limited access to specialty care, particularly in rural areas.
Why is the new Community of Practice initiative important to the community?
Dr. Jasinski: The CoP model has been used effectively across many specialties as a mechanism for advancing knowledge and clinical care, particularly when specialized expertise is necessary but gaps in provider coverage make getting specialty care challenging. The CoP model is particularly relevant and timely given the exceptional increase in need for mental health and substance use services as the impact of the pandemic continues.
How will Community of Practice make a difference to our patients?
Dr. Jasinski: The goal of the CoP is to enhance knowledge and create a network of connections that can improve the quality of screening and care for those needing mental health and substance use services. Nearly one third of Americans are reporting significant mental health symptoms, yet many of those needing services are unable to access them effectively. Building knowledge among many types of healthcare providers can truly save lives through screening, intervention, referral to specialty services, and ongoing care. The CoP hopes to do just that: improve or save the lives of those experiencing mental health needs.