Including Mental Health Care in Primary Care

Dates of Project: August 1998 to July 2001

Description: Asian Americans with mental disorders often do not receive treatment until they are chronically ill or in crisis. To address this problem, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s Bridge Program implemented a model to make mental health services more accessible in New York City’s Chinese American community by coupling them with primary care visits at the center’s three sites.

Key Results

  • In the first three years of the program:

    • Mental health visits to primary care practitioners rose threefold.
    • The total number of mental health clinical encounters and the number of patients in whom psychiatric disorders were diagnosed more than tripled at the community health center’s initial three sites.
    • The federal government recognized the Bridge Program as a model that can be replicated to improve access and care for ethnic minority patients with mental health problems. As of 2002, programs in Boston, Seattle, and Oakland, Calif., were adopting the model.