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Kaiser making mental-health push

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The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The San Francisco Business Times reports that Kaiser Permanente says it has hired about 500 mental-health therapists since 2011 and plans to hire 354 more mental-health clinicians by the end of this year. Consumers and regulators have long criticized the healthcare giant for allegedly failing to adequately staff its mental-health clinics.

Given the close connection between mental- and behavioral-health problems and other, “physical” illness (especially vivid in  the throngs of returnees to hospital emergency rooms), Kaiser could end up saving money by hiring these mental-health professionals.

Kaiser officials called the moves “part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to be the leader in providing high-quality mental-health care” and ending the stigma connected with seeking care for mental illness.

Kaiser also plans to spend $115 million “to refresh and remodel” at least 76 mental-health clinics in California and will spend other money  to build an unspecified number of new mental-health facilities “as a result of the organization’s increasing membership,” the paper reported.


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