AMA offers strategic behavioral health guides for patient care


As mental health needs continue to ramp up due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the American Medical Association (AMA) recently released four new strategic behavioral health guides for patient care.

The guides cover four areas: practice workflow design; pharmacological treatment; substance use disorder screening and treatment; and suicide prevention.

In the practice workflow design guide, practitioners can answer key questions and criteria to help establish a workflow for behavioral health integration that address patients’ needs and suit their practice. The guide covers topics such as staffing, handoffs, protocols for crises, technology, billing and coding as well as patient and staff feedback.

The psychopharmacology guide provides evidence-based guidance to primary care practices regarding when to treat patients using psychotropic medications. This guide addresses aligning and training teams, evaluating appropriateness of medication, and implementing a treatment plan.

For those practitioners looking for support regarding treatment for substance use disorders, this practice guide shares actionable, evidence-based steps to identify and address unhealthy patterns and use of substances in patients. This guide treats substance use disorder as a disease and offers a way for practitioners to evaluate and identify those at-risk or living with addiction.

Finally, the suicide prevention guide provides practitioners with actionable steps and evidence-based research to identify patients who are at risk and help determine the most appropriate treatment plan moving forward. This guide is meant to empower practitioners to help spot the signs of suicide risk with advance preparation and appropriate training.

In addition, the AMA has published a Behavioral Health Integration Compendium for those interested in learning more about integrative behavioral health care. The publication provides a framework regarding mental health and substance abuse disorders, offering guidance on the initial steps and considerations of delivering integrated behavioral care.