State Addressing Behavioral Health

In Minnesota over 700,000 individuals or 1 in 8 experience some form of mental illness. However, as reported less than half will receive treatment due to a lack of access and stigma-related causes. Of the 70 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) surveyed in the state in 2015, behavioral health was the most frequently cited service requested.

One of the barriers to implementing a community-based program focusing on behavioral health is the difficulty in coordinating care in communities. Secondly, obtaining a signed patient release for multiple partners can be a challenge. One community team created a universal release of the information form which has streamlined the delivery of care and communication between partners.

To meet the needs in the state, Rural Health Innovations (RFI), a National Rural Health Resource Center, started the Minnesota Integrative Behavioral Health (IBH) Program.

RHI is working with CAHs to find local agencies where it would be possible to partner with others to integrate behavioral health in caring for patients. Partners can include behavioral health providers, nonprofits, family support systems, law enforcement, schools, clergy, artists, and business leaders. The partners can be involved across all sectors in health integration between hospitals, primary care providers, and community services.

The stakeholders working together as partners are to increase communication on the issues, address behavioral health needs during transitional care, decrease ER admissions, provide support to patient care staff to help manage their own behavioral health, and engage local artists to build community outreach to the general population.

RHI recommends incorporating interoperable technology for community partners who are presently using different interfaces, create easy access to behavioral health support by using telehealth and on-call therapists, use local advisory councils to build care coordination, and utilize the resource directory which is now available.

RHI recommends using a data collection tool to be shared with CAHs in order to present a report on findings. At this point, information could then be complied into a toolkit and shared among partners and with future teams.

Go to for the full summary of the Minnesota Integrative Behavioral Health Program published by the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub).

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