Leading the Conversation on Mental Health

Mental health is the top health concern of the people of Eastern Connecticut and Backus Hospital is leading the conversation. Whether it’s Mental Health First Aid to teach community members about identifying and helping those with mental illness, ambulatory and inpatient services, or embedding behavioral health into the primary care setting, we believe that mental health is the foundation of a person’s overall health. As with any other health conditions, if we can identify an issue early and provide proper care and treatment, we go a long way in mitigating the long term effects of the disease. Backus has been a leader in making mental health part of the health care conversation and is committed to building capacity to help people access the care they need and deserve.

Integrating Mental Health with Primary Care

Integrating behavioral health services with primary care

In partnership with the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, Backus has integrated behavioral health services into the primary care setting by embedding a licensed clinical social worker in our health centers in Colchester and Norwichtown. This is important because a high number of patients who utilize health care services on a regular basis also have mental health issues. But in our traditional system, patients who are referred by their primary care providers to a behavioral health professional rarely follow up on their appointments. In our new model, if a primary care provider believes a patient can benefit from behavioral health services he or she can introduce the patient to the social worker on the spot. This social worker may do an assessment right there and then, and help the patient manage his or her follow up care.

Leading the Discussion and Finding Solutions

Joining the conversation on substance abuse in Eastern Connecticut

Backus has recognized that substance abuse is a serious health concern in Eastern Connecticut and is leading the conversation to address the problem. In January, officials from Backus joined U.S. Senator Chris Murphy for a roundtable on the obstacles facing behavioral health providers and their patients including the shortage of mental health professionals, particularly child psychiatrists, the gap between commercial and public insurance and the issue of assisted outpatient treatment. In addition, Backus, led by Karen Butterworth-Erban, RN, Regional Director of Emergency Services for the Hartford HealthCare East Region, helped create the Emergency Services-Community Public Safety Collaborative that works with community partners to address the rising number of drug overdoses in eastern Connecticut.

A National Voice

Offering expertise on signs and symptoms of dangerous drug use

In 2015, the number of visits to emergency rooms from synthetic marijuana—also known as K2 and Spice—was on the rise nationally. Backus Emergency Department and behavioral health clinicians offered their expertise on the signs, symptoms and treatments for the dangerous drug to several statewide and national media stories on the issue. By sharing our experience in Eastern Connecticut, we are able to bring this crucial conversation to a broader stage.