Integrating behavioral health and primary care: the Harris County Community Behavioral Health Program

Psychiatr Serv. 2008 Apr;59(4):356-8. doi: 10.1176/ps.2008.59.4.356.


This column describes and evaluates the Harris County Community Behavioral Health Program, a new integrated care program operating in community health centers serving low-income uninsured residents in Houston, Texas. Patient service data, provider satisfaction, patient outcome data, and appointment waiting periods were obtained to evaluate the initial operation of the program. The integrated care program has been successfully implemented on a large scale at an annual cost of about dollars 800,000, or dollars 268 per patient served. About 3,000 patients were treated for behavioral problems by behavioral health staff during the first 11 months of the program. In addition, efforts were made to expand the scope of behavioral health interventions provided by primary care physicians. Providers were satisfied with the program, improvement was detected among patients treated, and there was an increase in the average number of community-based behavioral health services received per patient since the program was implemented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Mental Health Services / economics
  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Eligibility Determination
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Mental Disorders / economics
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Development*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas