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Promoting Access to Behavioral Health Care

Accessing adequate patient-centered mental and behavioral health care is a challenge for all Americans but particularly so for historically under-resourced and marginalized groups, who face unique barriers to care.

A mental health counselor meets with her patient in a sunlit room

As part of the AAMC's ongoing efforts to “Improve Access to Health Care for All,” we seek to improve mental and behavioral health care access through collaborative, evidence-based, and technology-enabled care delivery models.

Integrated behavioral health (IBH), providing medical and behavioral health care together, is an evidence-based strategy that offers successful collaborative models for enhancing access, improving patient outcomes, reducing stigma, and promoting health care equity.

The AAMC is committed to advancing and promoting the uptake of IBH models in both primary and specialty care and to identifying the optimal use of technology as a complement to these models of care.

This page provides information on AAMC’s efforts resources, toolkits, and educational opportunities for clinical faculty, staff, and leadership to support the development and implementation of IBH. It also outlines the AAMC’s advocacy efforts to advance federal policies that support the adoption and expansion of IBH models.

AAMC Maternal Mental Health Learning Series

Beginning in September 2023, the AAMC will launch a brand new learning series, “Improving Maternal Mental Health Outcomes: Varied Approaches to Closing the Gap of Care.” This free webinar series will spotlight the initiatives of academic medical centers and nonprofit organizations to address the maternal mental health crisis. This series is suitable for academic medicine leaders, administrators, clinicians, trainees, and advocates.

Upcoming Webinars

Successes and Challenges of State-Funded Perinatal Psychiatry Access Programs
Thursday, Oct. 12, at 4 p.m. ET

State-funded perinatal psychiatry access programs like MCPAP for Moms, Project TEACH NY, and NC Maternal Mental Health MATTERS are three programs affiliated and supported by academic medical centers that are staffed by perinatal psychiatrists who offer training, consultation, resources, and referrals to build the capacity of perinatal care professionals to screen, assess, and treat perinatal mental health and substance use disorders. This webinar will focus on the successes, challenges such as barriers to care, and opportunities, as well as how the state-funded access programs began. A key takeaway from this webinar will be for providers to understand how these programs can help them in their practice.

Establishing Equitable Models of Prenatal Care: The Elevating Voices, Addressing Depression, Toxic Stress and Equity (EleVATE) Collaborative
Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 3 p.m. ET

Developed by an interdisciplinary team of Black patients, obstetric clinicians, and mental health professionals, EleVATE Group Care in Missouri aims to reduce preterm birth rates among Black women by incorporating evidence-based behavioral groups. EleVATE’s framework focuses on patients, systems change, and educating clinicians. This webinar will showcase the success of the program, their plans for the future, and the challenges they have faced along the way.

The Perinatal Mental Health Education & Screening Project: A Collaborative Approach to Improving Maternal Mental Health
Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. ET

Screening for anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders before, during, and after pregnancy is essential to the overall health and wellbeing of the birthing person and by extension their child and family. This webinar will feature speakers from the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA), which is a leading organization in the advocacy of maternal mental health and is dedicated to promoting the mental health of mothers and childbearing people across the country. MMHLA, in partnership with the March of Dimes, established the Perinatal Mental Health Education and Screening Project. This is a multi-year, multi-disciplinary collaborative effort to ensure all patients across the perinatal spectrum are educated and screened for maternal mental health disorders. The speakers will discuss the screening project phases, what they have learned, and the next steps in achieving better equity and care for patients.

Past Webinars

Perinatal Mental Health Hotlines & Resources
Monday, Sept. 11, at 4 p.m. ET

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is one of the foremost organizations working to bring awareness and help to those mothers in need through resources, hotlines, and much more. PSI in coordination with HRSA launched a National Maternal Mental Health Hotline last year, which provides 24/7 free and confidential support throughout the entire perinatal period. This webinar will amplify the work PSI is doing, bring awareness about the different hotlines, and discuss how to help after women call a hotline. Access the recording.

AAMC Mental and Behavioral Health Training Awards

The AAMC is proud to announce the recipients of its Mental and Behavioral Health Training Awards.

Four AAMC-member institutions – Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Texas A&M School of Medicine, and UC Davis School of Medicine – were recognized for programs that prioritize team-oriented training in integrated behavioral health (IBH) to increase access to mental and behavioral health care in an innovative way, and that prepare and train providers and trainees with the skills and competencies needed to work in IBH care models. The AAMC looks forward to collaborating with these programs to learn more and to share strategies for improving mental and behavioral health access. Learn about the MBH Training Award winners.

Questions? Please contact mentalhealth@aamc.org.

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Maternal Mental Health Resources

Understanding the unique mental health needs of birthing persons will help identify appropriate clinical interventions, including integrated care models and technological solutions, to address this critical issue.

View a snapshot highlighting the different experiences LGBTQ+ communities face in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum health.

  • June 27, 2022
Mixed race doctor examining pregnant patient’s belly

View a synopsis of the AAMC Center for Health Justice’s national poll on the experiences of birthing people.

  • May 16, 2022
Pregnant African American mother holding stomach in hospital

Read a research brief from the Center for Health Justice’s national maternal health poll released in spring 2022.

  • May 16, 2022
Pregnant woman leaning against a wall

Glance at an overview of the Maternal Health Incubator virtual event that brought together thought leaders to discuss maternal health inequities.

  • May 24, 2022
A young African American mother in a hospital gown gently holds her infant in her arms and smiles down at her. The baby's eyes are closed.

Technology Resources

Digital health tools can be implemented alongside IBH models to increase access to mental and behavioral health care. The AAMC has worked with member institutions to understand how telehealth and other digital tools have been successfully leveraged by teaching hospitals to expand access.

Video call with doctor

View a snapshot outlining the importance of telehealth to increase access to mental and behavioral health services at academic health systems.

  • March 24, 2022
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For questions about the AAMC’s behavioral health advocacy, please contact gov-relations@aamc.org.