Behavioral Health Services

Background and Importance

Good mental health is a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to adapt to and cope with life’s challenges. Mental health is essential to youth and adults for personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to contribute to one’s community.

Behavioral health care services include approaches to promoting well-being by preventing or intervening in mental illness such as depression or anxiety, as well as preventing or intervening in substance abuse or other addictions. Unfortunately, mental illness and addictions continue to be associated with stigma that may prevent seeking or receiving needed health care services.  Additionally, capacity for behavioral health care services is often insufficient and in some cases not well connected to other parts of the health care system. People with both acute and chronic mental health conditions are often under-diagnosed and under-treated, leaving them with significantly poorer health and social outcomes including shortened life spans, lower rates of steady employment, and higher rates of homelessness. 

A shortage of behavioral health professionals can contribute to reduced access and poorer health outcomes. In the Winnipesaukee Public Health Region, the ratio of residents per behavioral care provider is substantially higher than for New Hampshire overall.  According to the most recently available data, residents of the Winnipesaukee Public Health Region are also significantly more likely to use an emergency department for mental health conditions.

Geographic Area

Ratio of People per Behavioral Health Provider[1]

Rate of Emergency Department Visits for Mental Health Conditions (per 100,000 people;
all ages)
[2]

Winnipesaukee Region

801

1,587

New Hampshire

438

1,474



[1] Data Sources:  NH Board of Mental Health Practice/ NH Board of Licensing of AOD Use Professionals, Certified Recovery Support Workers/New Hampshire Board of Medicine licensure list 10/22/2010.

[2] Data Source: NH DHHS Hospital Discharge Data Collection System, 2007-2009. Regional rate is statistically different and higher than the overall NH rate

Regional Initiatives and Opportunities

The Community Health Services Network is working to address access to behavioral health care services as part of this Community Health Improvement Plan.  Existing resources and opportunities that can be built upon in this priority area include:

  • The federal Affordable Care Act provides important new opportunities to improve access to behavioral health care services by making coverage and treatment an essential benefit of plans offered through the health insurance exchange and through expansion of Medicaid benefits.
  • Locally, Genesis Behavioral Health is a key provider organization of behavioral health services. Genesis Behavioral Health (GBH) is working to increase the depth and breadth of Substance Use Disorder services for individuals dually diagnosed with mental health and addiction illnesses.
  • GBH is working to expand the number and scope of licensed staff, as well as partnering with Plymouth State University to address workforce retention.
  •  GBH is also working to improve access to care by expanding transportation services, expanding service sites and hours of operation and by developing an improved urgent care model.
  • LRGHealthcare is working to address the acute shortage of behavioral care capacity in the region by supporting these important services:

o   Designated Receiving Facility at Franklin Regional Hospital

o   The Senior Psychiatric Services Unit at Lakes Region General Hospital

  • Horizons Counseling Center is working to provide affordable and accessible treatment services to those struggling with substance use as a co-occurring mental health disorders including assessment, treatment and supportive community reentry for offenders incarcerated in the Belknap County Department of Corrections (DOC).
  • Project Aware in the Franklin School District and Safe Schools in Laconia provide behavioral health services in the school setting.

Goals, Objectives and Strategic Approach


Goal 1

Increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment* services in the Winnipesaukee Public Health Region.

Objective 1

Increase the ratio of Behavioral Health Care Providers per resident population by 10% by 2020.

Objective 2

Decrease the rate of emergency department visits for mental health conditions by 10% by 2020.


Strategic Approach


STRATEGY 1:  Identify barriers to access considering factors such as geography, affordability, sufficiency in number of providers and other systemic barriers.
STRATEGY 2:  Recruit and train additional licensed clinicians.
STRATEGY 3:  Expand service sites and hours of operation.
STRATEGY 4:  Develop an integrated service system model (Community Health Services Network) and leverage opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act by seeking modifications in the reimbursement model.


*Note: Additional goals and objectives for increasing access to substance abuse treatment are addressed in the next priority area of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.



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