May is Mental Health Month. At OneWorld, we know that mental health is just as important as physical health. Our experienced behavioral health professionals and our team of social workers work alongside medical clinicians to help patients manage issues like depression, family concerns, housing problems, anxiety, trauma, risky behaviors and more. Psychiatrists consult with our medical and behavioral health clinicians to ensure that our patients receive the best care through effective assessment and evaluation, diagnosis, medication management and therapeutic services.
At our clinics, patients don’t need to wait to schedule a separate appointment to meet with a behavioral health professional for the first time—our team members come to patients’ previously scheduled medical appointments as needed, and from there, they can arrange for follow-up appointments.
“In integrated care, we are treating the whole person,” Michael Pellecchia, LiMHP, LMSW, OneWorld’s Associate Director of Behavioral Health, said. “The model allows for a ‘one-stop shopping’ concept, allowing patients … to access a range of services within one provider encounter. For many patients, their conceptualization of mental health and behavioral health is often not favorable and stigmatized. Introducing the integrated care model provides the opportunity for a first encounter with behavioral health/mental health to be a positive experience, thus opening the door to future encounters with reduced stigma.”
In addition to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health care, OneWorld works to make these services accessible for everyone who needs care by removing some common barriers. Our behavioral health team members are bilingual in English and Spanish, and interpreter services are available for other languages, so our patients are able to communicate comfortably with our behavioral health team. We also provide free transportation services to some locations to help patients who may not otherwise be able to attend appointments. Additionally, behavioral health team members at our School-Based Health Centers and our Teen and Young Adult Health Center work to identify and meet the needs of at-risk young people.
“With the nation in a health care crisis looking for a solution to provide affordable health care and mental health care to all Americans, it’s good to know that our service to OneWorld is one method for addressing provision of medical services to people otherwise unable to access care,” Pellecchia said. “Our service to the underserved is a vital tenet to the work we do, and it’s what we stand for as an organization. We have been able to establish ourselves into the fabric of the communities we serve.”
Seeking and receiving mental health/behavioral health care can sometimes be a lower priority for patients, but according to Pellecchia, behavioral health is “clearly not secondary to physical health.”
“The state of our social problems nationally is a striking indication that mental health is more urgently in need of attention than ever,” he said. “The stress encountered through chronic poverty—and displaced families lacking in support—can result in chronic mental health problems … The vast majority of those incarcerated in the U.S. are affected by problems attributable to mental health. Presently, it is clear our answer to mental health treatment is incarceration. Gun violence and domestic violence have origins that are direct results of problems with origins in poor mental health and care. Suicide is a mental health issue, and has been steadily rising in veterans, younger populations with the highest rates of suicide experienced throughout the inner mountain states.”
Additionally, he said, helping patients with substance use/addiction is a priority now because, “while addiction afflicts all socioeconomic groups, it disproportionately affects those from lower socioeconomic groups.” OneWorld offers Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), which combines behavioral health therapy and medications like Buprenorphine/Suboxone and others to treat substance use disorders. We provide a holistic, individually tailored program designed to address each patient’s individual needs.
“The reality that [addiction] is a disease that affects the communities we serve disproportionately and is treatable makes this a very compelling area to provide treatment,” Pellecchia said.
Mental health is an important part of our work at OneWorld. Here, our goal is to help every patient who needs behavioral/mental health care access the services they need.
“Behavioral health is a tool that can be utilized by the medical providers and by extension, the patients,” Pellecchia said. “Behavioral Health can be that first introduction to mental health that has an effect of shaping the patient view of mental health for a lifetime.”