Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 341-355

First online:

Crossing The Divide: Primary Care And Mental Health Integration

  • Carole C. UpshurAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School Email author 

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This paper describes the views of primary care providers about treating depression among adult Medicaid patients and their experiences with managed behavioral health care. It also shows the outcomes of an intervention project that provides a care manager to facilitate connections among PCPs, patients, and behavioral health providers. Despite widespread initiatives to improve depression management in primary care and to manage behavioral health services, it appears that links between the two systems and the use of evidence-based approaches to managing patients are rare. A pilot project to initiate practice redesign, the use of a care manager to assist in patient support, and compliance with both medical and behavioral health treatment has been shown to improve communication and results in positive patient outcomes. Managed behavioral health care can result in incentive structures that create gaps between primary care and behavioral health systems. This project illustrates an initiative co-sponsored by the Massachusetts behavioral health program designed to strengthen links between behavioral health and primary care, and increase rates and effectiveness of depression treatment.


depression managed behavioral health Medicaid primary health care