Post-Katrina, Mental Health Services Needed

Integrating primary and mental health services in the Mississippi coastal region

Field of Work: Mental health integration into primary care

Problem Synopsis: Years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, mental health problems persist in the region. Responsibility for providing mental health services increasingly falls to primary care providers, especially for people who rely on the publicly funded safety net for health care.

Synopsis of the Work: The Coastal Family Health Center, is a network of federally qualified community health centers and clinics that serve the vulnerable populations in the coastal counties of Mississippi. From December 2008 through June 2011, its staff received training from Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City, on its "mental health integration model."

That model routinely incorporates mental health care into primary care practice, building on an approach that considers mental health a fundamental feature of wellness, and embeds related services into clinic operations.

Key Results: Coastal Family Health Center staff reported to RWJF:

  • Intermountain Health provided five trainings to 65 Coastal Family Health Center staff members, including medical and mental health professionals, information specialists, and clerical staff.
  • The Coastal Family Health Center piloted the mental health integration model, but technical and reporting problems prevented its full adoption.
  • Project staff informed Mississippi state legislators about Medicaid reimbursement challenges for mental health services.