Colorado Youth Have Faster, Easier Access to Behavioral Health Services Through Program Powered by Kids First Health Care, AccessCare and Colorado Access

By integrating care at multiple middle and high school health centers, this program helps solve the state’s pediatric mental health crisis

DENVER, August 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — With the devastation the pandemic has taken on young people in terms of isolation, missed experiences and fragmented learning, children and young people are struggling to access resources to meet their needs increases in mental health. A recent survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) showed that 40% of Colorado young people have experienced feelings of depression over the past year. In May 2022Children’s Hospital Colorado has declared a state of emergency for pediatric mental health (which it declared in May 2021) had worsened over the past year. Colorado Access, the state’s largest public sector health plan, has partnered with local nonprofit Kids First Health Care (Kids First) to address behavioral health care for this group, by integrating them into primary care in schools and ultimately making them more accessible and effective.

AccessCare, the telehealth subsidiary of Colorado Access, used its Virtual Care Collaboration and Integration (VCCI) program to partner with Kids First to initially offer virtual therapy at five local school health centers, but has since extended to eight clinics (six health center schools and two community clinics). Of August 2020 at May 2022, this program had a total of 304 visits with 67 unique patients. According to Kids First, this is an increase in need and service delivery compared to what they have seen in the past. There are several reasons for this, but one is clear; services are accessible in a familiar setting – through school-based health centres.

“Having a program like Kids First counseling at school has really helped me take control of my own mental health,” wrote one student participant. “Before, it was very difficult for someone my age to find a place that would help get me on the right track for counseling and psychiatry. Kids First has opened so many doors for me to finally understand what i need and finally starting to feel better.Since i have the telehealth program at school it has become much more accessible and much easier to get help when i need it, and for that I am forever grateful.

This partnership also enables school health centers to coordinate physical health care with behavioral health care. As part of the program, a student first meets with a physical health care provider (often after being referred by an academic advisor or teacher) to identify any physical health needs and also discuss service needs and options. of mental health. From there, physical and behavioral health care are integrated to provide a more holistic model of care. Specific conditions that require physical and mental health treatment, such as an eating disorder, particularly benefit from this approach.

Given the high caseload of school therapists and difficulties connecting with community providers, Kids First staff say access to care can take weeks or months, or even be spotty. With AccessCare, patients can be seen within a week, which can have a big impact.

“This kind of support saves lives,” said Emily Human, Clinical Initiatives Lead for Kids First Health Care. “The program helps patients recognize the importance of mental health care and helps reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services.”

Since its creation in July 2017, more than 5,100 encounters have been completed through the VCCI program at Colorado Access, including more than 1,300 in 2021 alone. An encounter includes an online consultation or the use of telehealth services and is defined as a visit in which the patient meets the provider. Currently, the VCCI program is fully integrated into 27 primary practice sites across the metro denver, now comprising eight sites in partnership with Kids First. As the program continues to see success, Colorado Access and AccessCare intend to expand these collaborative efforts to meet growing needs and increase access to care.

“The success of this partnership with Kids First shows that innovative solutions can directly impact the lives of those who need them most,” said Annie Lee, president and CEO of Colorado Access. “We look forward to building our capabilities and offering solutions to meet our partners’ needs through continued investment in our subsidiary AccessCare.”

About Colorado Access

As the largest and most experienced public sector health plan in the state, Colorado Access is a nonprofit organization that works beyond simply navigating health services. The society is focused on meeting the unique needs of members by partnering with providers and community organizations to provide better personalized care through measurable results. Their broad and deep view of regional and local systems allows them to stay focused on member care while collaborating on measurable and economically sustainable systems that serve them best. Learn more about coaccess.com.

SOURCE Colorado Access

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