Behavioral Health Resource Center
SSM Health’s behavioral health resource center offers patients dedicated social workers to help evaluate needs and connect them to the most appropriate care. This type of curated, coordinated approach to care built trust with patients with mental health needs, many of whom had unsuccessfully sought mental health care in suboptimal settings such as the emergency room. How does this build trustworthiness? The creation of a dedicated resource center was a tangible sign of commitment to whole person care, reflecting the system’s efforts to serve all patients with urgent behavioral health needs. The coordinated and partnership-driven approach ensures patients receive the care they need when it is needed most.
How It Works
SSM Health recently opened a behavioral health resource center to assist those not familiar with the system in accessing the right resources. The behavioral health resource center is staffed by eight social workers who will perform evaluations and help direct individuals and families to the care they need. The goal is to work in partnership to manage the needs of a population and ensure ease of navigation.
Skills and Competencies
The behavioral health resource center is based on an existing program for aging and disability services. The practice requires strong evaluators to assist in not only screening for psychiatric needs but also social determinants of health and other resource needs. It requires relationships in order for the center staff to serve as a liaison. Overall, it requires collaboration.
According to a regional report, the number of people who visited emergency rooms for mental health reasons increased more than 40 percent between 2010 and 2016. SSM Health found that individuals were going to the wrong place (such as the emergency room) for care that could be addressed in another setting. This use of resources caused duplication of care or missed opportunities to address needs. This was discouraging for patients unable to access the resources they needed and led to a decrease in trust.
While in the early stages, there is a significant demand, with staff treating more than 300 patients within two months of the center’s opening.
Yes, it is scalable. As stated in a recent article, “The whole goal of this collaboration and this team that came together is not only raising the health and wellness of a particular community (here) in St. Louis, but also to share how we did it and how we did it differently.” This model could be effectively utilized in many other communities to build trust.