Health centers provided primary and preventive care services to more than 21 million patients nationwide in 2013. Located in medically underserved areas, health centers provide a range of services, which increasingly include integrated primary care and behavioral health services. The number of community health centers that provide behavioral health services has increased by 137 percent since 2001 and treatment for depression is now the third most frequent treatment at health centers.
A strong connection exists between physical and behavioral health. When chronic diseases and behavioral health issues occur together, treatment is more costly. For example, a study found a patient with depression and a chronic disease has monthly health care costs that are $560 more than those of a patient without depression.*
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act that build on the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 expand the reach of coverage to those in the individual and small group markets. They require insurance policies that cover mental health to provide services comparable to those for medical care. This expansion helped allow approximately 70 percent of health centers to offer mental health services. These services are provided by more than 6,000 mental health providers across the country, although shortages of behavioral health providers remain a barrier to accessing these services, particularly in rural areas.
Sources: National Association of Community Health Centers; *Benjamin G. Druss and Elizabeth Reisinger, Mental Disorders and Medical Comorbidity (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: 2011).
This publication was made possible by grant number UD3OA22893 from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HRSA.