In spring 2016, the AHA published a white paper, "The State of the Behavioral Health Workforce: A Literature Review." The conclusion included seven steps that describe how a hospital or health system can strengthen its behavioral health workforce. This guide builds on those concepts to include how to expand the capabilities of your workforce around addressing behavioral health needs. It offers new perspectives as well as tips and suggestions that can help you move your organization forward more rapidly, efficiently and effectively. Step 1: Assess your current workforce knowledge and skills as well as your patient population. Step 2: Ensure your workforce is knowledgeable about the socioeconomic determinants of health and the challenges facing your community, and make sure they are culturally competent. Step 3: Educate your entire workforce to identify the signs and symptoms of behavioral health disorders and know where and how to refer for screening. Step 4: Set up a procedure of assessment, treatment and referral so that behavioral health care is happening at the site of visit, if possible. Step 5: Use interprofessional education and training and team-based care for your current and future workforce to begin integrating primary and behavioral health care. Step 6: Contact higher education programs in your area to establish partnerships that address the needs of the population your hospital or health system serves, as well as enhance the recruitment and retention of behavioral health professionals. Step 7: In order to strengthen care transitions and integration, engage the broader community, including: (1) Community groups, (2) Community health centers, (3) Mental health care and substance abuse treatment providers, (4) Social service agencies, (5) Local law enforcement (6) Judicial systems, (7) Schools, (8) Churches and religious organizations.
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