The American Hospital Association’s Task Force on Behavioral Health offers hospital leaders recommendations on strategies to address mental-health needs in their communities:
• 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 community-wide 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.