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Youth Suicide Prevention in Primary Care

CE Credit: 2

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Length: 110 minutes

Session offered by Divison 53.

Despite years of interest in integrating behavioral and medical services, limited progress has been achieved. Some screening tools and physician training programs have been developed and several models of collaboration between medical and behavioral health providers have been proposed. Still, penetration into practice is low. Only 51% of physicians say they know how to handle mental health information from adolescents and fewer than half (46%) of physicians feel capable of identifying depression and other disorders in adolescents. One study suggested that, in fact, physicians do discuss risk behaviors and behavioral health with their patients, but not as frequently as is recommended by the American Medical Association. In short, there remains a need for service integration between primary care and behavioral health.

However, there are many barriers to realizing this possibility. In brief, these barriers include primary care providers (PCPs) time constraints, lack of training in mental health, discomfort with addressing psychological problems, lack of tools for effective identification, lack of resources once problems are identified, and poor communication with referral sources. While many efforts have focused on particular aspects of this problem (e.g., physician training), real success may require a paradigmatic and comprehensive systems change. Toward this goal, we created Behavioral Health-Works (BH-works), a SAMHSA funded Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention project based in primary care. The program consist of PCP trainings, web based behavioral health screening, and strategies for integrating and collocating behavioral health and medical services. Although this program focused on youth suicide, it provides a model for general mental health screening and triage. The symposium papers will present several key aspects of this project, thus providing an over view of a systematic, coherent approach to the integration of medical and behavioral health. Time will be allocated for discussion among attendees doing similar projects in primary care.

Learning Objective 1
Discuss the many barriers and possible solutions to integrating behavioral health into primary care.

Learning Objective 2
Describe three suicide prevention trainings that are available for primary care providers.

Presenters: Guy Diamond, PhD (Chair and Participant); Matt Wintersteen, PhD; Suzanne Levy, PhD


Supplementary Materials

  • GLS Symposium
  • GLS Symposium Reference List