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Why Collaborative Care Is Essential for Mental Health Recovery

Despite the availability of mental health treatment, many interventions focus solely on short-term approaches to mental health improvement. Effective mental health treatments must also involve a focus on long-term treatment through the inclusion of treatment plans and routine care. Many mental health conditions contain interactions between behavioral, psychosocial, and emotional elements with symptoms that may become unmanageable. Mental health treatment must address all elements associated with a specific condition, and one professional is unable do to that alone. A team of specialists must be utilized for every mental health element to be addressed in each client’s case. Mental health recovery and interventions must use a collaborative care focus to ensure that treatment is individualized and integrated for each and every client. 

What Is Collaborative Care?

Collaborative care is a coordinated approach to mental health treatment. It involves multiple parties of treatment professionals, such as case managers, care providers, mental health specialists, and patients. Typically, a primary care provider (PCP) leads collaborative care, connecting a patient with different treatment professionals and resources that align with their unique treatment goals. The team works together to form a care plan using evidence-based treatment methods. Collaborative care is effective because it integrates the many elements involved in mental health conditions as well as the many elements necessary for successful treatment. 

With collaborative care, treatment is patient-centered. Many collaborative care teams use motivational interviewing to help encourage and empower clients to achieve their treatment goals. Patients may be encouraged to engage in collaborative care to receive treatment for depression and anxiety, addiction recovery, or learn valuable coping skills during high-stress times. To keep track of client progress, collaborative care uses patient-reported measures to validate treatment methods and drive future clinical decision-making. 

The Parts of Collaborative Care

In addition to a primary care provider, case manager, and therapist, there are many unique professionals that may be involved in collaborative care. Most clients do not engage with all of these professionals, as they are unique to each mental health condition. These professionals include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Behavioral therapists
  • Dietitians
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Counselors
  • Addiction case managers
  • Alternative therapists (such as art or music therapists)

Especially in severe cases, a client may need extra support and guidance in other areas of their life outside of treatment. Examples of this may include the need for safe housing, access to community support groups, volunteer opportunities, work opportunities, and access to food. Collaborative care also connects clients with these community resources when necessary, as it is a huge part of what sets collaborative care apart from other forms of treatment. 

The Benefits of Collaborative Care

Collaborative care is not only beneficial for a client, but also for healthcare professionals. One major benefit of collaborative care treatment is that it is effective in saving money, improving health outcomes, and reducing the stigma associated with mental health. The gaps of communication in client care become closed, as multiple professionals within a facility are working together for the well-being of one specific client. There is more personal interaction between care providers and mental health professionals, as everyone is collaborating on how treatment can be more individualized and improved for a given client. 

Another benefit of collaborative care is that, because team members are working so closely together, the chances of misdiagnosis are significantly reduced. With treatment being comprehensive and individualized, there is a much smaller chance of readmission following treatment. This not only saves money for the client, but also saves providers and professionals time that can be geared towards a new client situation. 

A Long Term Approach to Patient Care

A great benefit for the client is that collaborative care is multi-faceted and patient-centered. All treatment professionals are motivated through the client’s willingness to change and succeed in treatment. A client, in turn, has an entire team of professionals rooting for their mental well-being. From the very beginning of a client’s treatment experience, these professionals stand beside them and encourage the most beneficial recovery possible for the client. This is also effective because the professionals are not looking for the client to receive temporary relief from their mental distress, but working towards long-lasting and sustaining recovery- free from the distressing symptoms that tend to accompany crippling mental health conditions. 

With the constant communication shared between health professionals, collaborative care shares numerous benefits for a client as well as the collaborative team. Issues with treatment (if any) are addressed more quickly and efficiently, with all parts of a client team finding the best treatment fit for a client’s condition. Individualized care should always remain a priority with mental health care, as mental health distress affects everyone differently. 

Collaborative care is a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment. It involves the interaction of multiple health professionals, such as a primary care provider, case manager, mental health professionals, and other specialists. Collaborative care is patient-centered, making treatment individualized. Other necessary community resources are often suggested through collaborative care, such as access to food, safe housing, and other community support groups. There are many benefits to collaborative care for both the client and team, such as constant communication and discussion about what is working and what needs to be approved in the client’s treatment plan. Collaborative care saves money, improves long-term health outcomes and recovery success, and helps to improve the stigma associated with mental health treatment. SoCal Mental Health, we believe in the power and value of collaborative care. We will connect you with a dedicated team of professionals that will foster long-term improvement in your mental wellness. Call us today at (714) 328-4760.