Psychiatric Care Program

Swedish seeks to address mental health in every patient encounter

2016MLA-Swedish-BehavioralHealthNearly one-third of patients visiting Swedish’s primary care clinics exhibit symptoms tied to mental health concerns. Yet many patients receive care for just their original complaints, never having their mental health symptoms addressed.

To fill this critical gap, Swedish is embedding mental health counselors in all 26 Seattle-area primary care clinics. This will allow same-day care and help reduce the barriers many patients face when seeking mental health care.

This model will provide early intervention and help prevent very treatable mental health disorders from becoming potentially serious, debilitating diseases. It also allows our primary care physicians to focus on the emergent physical concerns of our patients while ensuring that a trained behavioral health specialist is available to address patients’ mental health needs.

At the same time, Swedish is leading an initiative with other Western Washington hospitals to improve mental health care at all levels. To address the region’s critical shortage of acute care mental health beds, Swedish will open a 22-bed inpatient psychiatric unit at the Ballard neighborhood hospital in early 2016. This will allow Swedish to provide compassionate and timely care for those with severe mental health needs.

With access to the broader Swedish system, the on-site counselors can connect patients to the many behavioral health services and programs already offered at Swedish and in the broader community, such as groups for substance abuse, depression, anxiety and other disorders.

The primary care program was launched in early 2015, and 6,000 patients have already been screened for depression and substance abuse. And more than 1,750 patients have received referrals from their primary care providers to mental health specialists.

Swedish is coordinating its efforts with local agencies that serve the homeless and other high-risk groups. The goal is to ensure these patients receive all the services they need, including help with housing and other social services.

Learn more in this 3-minute video