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Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Initiatives

Behavioral health conditions have a significant impact on the health of individuals, their families, and communities. Behavioral health services, including those focused on mental health and substance abuse treatment, have historically been delivered separately from primary care by specialty providers; however, there is clear evidence about the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care services to provide a patient-centered approach. While the role of specialty behavioral health services remains critical, there is also an important role for primary care in the management of commonly occurring behavioral health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and mild to moderate substance use concerns. Primary care also plays an important role in screening for behavioral health concerns, including risk of suicide, either helping patients to manage their conditions or referring patients to partner organizations for ongoing coordinated care.

Behavioral health is one of the core required services that all community health centers (CHCs) must provide, either directly or through contractual arrangements. According to the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC), these services can be provided through different service delivery methods including direct or a formal written contract/agreement, such as referrals to outside providers and services. All nine community health centers in the Dakotas received funding from the BPHC in 2017 to expand their behavioral health services.

Community health centers across the Dakotas deal with behavioral health conditions in their patients every day. Nearly a quarter of the patients we serve in both states have been diagnosed with a mental health or substance abuse conditions, including 17,139 patients in South Dakota and 11,024 patients in North Dakota during 2017.

The Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas has developed both behavioral health and substance use disorder networking groups for professionals working together to increase access to behavioral health and substance use disorder services in the Dakotas.

For questions regarding the Behavioral Network Team, contact:
Robin Landwehr at

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