A report from the American Hospital Association’s Task Force on Behavioral Health offers hospital leaders several recommendations on strategies they can undertake to address mental health needs in their communities. For more on this subject, read our May cover story, debuting online May 12.

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The recommendations include:

  • Ensure that community health assessments include specific attention to behavioral illness.
  • Review and evaluate the organization’s behavioral plan in light of identified community needs, patient needs and available community resources.
  • Use a comprehensive financial and operational assessment to evaluate the benefits and value of behavioral health services to all operational components of the hospital.
  • Encourage and participate in developing a communitywide plan for people with behavioral health disorders and in coordinating community agencies that address behavioral health needs.
  • Work with community agencies and with state and local governments to ensure that patients are treated in the most appropriate setting so that the hospital’s backstop role is appropriately limited.
  • Create a formal plan that clearly defines the hospital’s role and its established relationships for behavioral health with other providers, practitioners, and government and community agencies.
  • Clearly communicate to public and private payers the costs required to care for behavioral health patients and the cost to society of not treating those patients.