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Integration of Care in Children’s Programs

Jul 25, 2023

Mental illness is far from linear, simple, or straightforward. Since its inception, People Incorporated has approached mental health treatment with person-centered, integrated care.

What is integrated care?

In the mental health field, integrated care is a general term for the partial blending of behavioral health services with general and/or specialty medical services (American Psychiatric Association). It’s characterized by a high degree of collaboration and communication among health professionals. This approach allows for more nuance and flexibility when supporting a client through their unique mental health journey.

Integrated care practices are an organization-wide priority across People Incorporated’s 20-plus programs, including our programs for children. While People Incorporated offers three different youth-focused programs – School-Based Mental Health Services (SBMH), Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS), and Children’s Targeted Case Management (CTCM) – each one overlaps and intersects with the others to offer care that is integrated and holistic. 

Natalie Brown, licensed program manager of CTCM, observes how much more swiftly youth clients are able to connect with necessary services and supports through the integrated care model. She oversees around 5 CTSS practitioners and 12 children’s case managers.

“Some youth in SBMH have extreme needs, and in those cases, there are skills workers through CTSS who can support them beyond once-a-week therapy,” said Brown. “The skills worker comes in to reinforce the skills established in therapy. So, a therapist in our SBMH program could be working with a set of children, but a couple of those clients could also have a case manager or a skills worker, depending on their needs.”

Bruce Cross, manager of SBMH in Robbinsdale schools, supervises around 27 therapists across the Metro who work directly in the school setting with their clients. In this district, there are also CTSS practitioners available if needed.

“Integrating our programs enhances the service – outpatient therapy isn’t the solution to everything for everyone,” said Cross. “There needs to be other things like someone to be with them doing relaxation skills during the day, or practitioners collaborating and identifying who needs extra services.”

The variety of supports available through these three programs allows for seamless transitions and referrals for clients, establishing a continuity of care that makes healing most effective.

“Our professionals are able to send referrals back and forth across programs, and everyone has a role in working together to identify that client’s need,” said Brown. “It’s really helpful to be working together, and the client gets more out of it versus working with an outside partner.”

You can make a gift directly to People Incorporated’s children’s programs to support integrated care for youth across Metro schools. Visit the Give page on our website and note “Children’s and Family Services” in your gift designation.