Practice Guide: Integrated Behavioral Health Care for Older Adults

Implementation Tool
June 2023
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Actionable and evidence-based guidance for integrating behavioral health care into primary care for older adults. 


The siloing of behavioral and physical health care services presents a significant barrier to effectively addressing the growing demand for behavioral health care within the United States. Behavioral health integration (BHI), where behavioral health services are integrated into primary care settings, has emerged as a key strategy to address this challenge and increase access to care for individuals with behavioral health needs. BHI is especially critical for older adults, who often experience barriers to behavioral health services and a shortage of specialized providers.

This resource offers actionable, evidence-based guidance for integrating behavioral health care into primary care settings for older adults.  


The guide offers recommendations for several key components of BHI, including screening and identification of behavioral health needs, treatment, patient and caregiver engagement, and evaluation and sustainability. For treatment considerations, it highlights best practices for delivering various behavioral health services within primary care settings, including medication management, psychotherapy, and behavioral activation. The guide highlights workflow designs, staffing models, and examples of evidence-based and promising practices in the field.


This resource can serve as a valuable tool for primary care practices seeking to establish effective practice-based treatment pathways for older adults with behavioral health needs. The guide’s wide range of treatments and care models underscores the opportunity for provider organizations to increase the effectiveness of both primary and behavioral health care to better meet patients’ needs.

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