Behavioral Health Overview

September 26th, 2012 by Cory Nelson Leave a reply »

Hi everyone.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Cory Nelson and I am the Acting Deputy Director for Behavioral Health Services.  This is my first blog post so I thought maybe we should just start at the beginning and talk about what the Division of Behavioral Health Services really does.  I think it is important at times to just step back and assess what our business is and that can help us to focus on what is really important.  So here goes….. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services (ADHS/DBHS) serves to provide coordination, planning, administration, regulation and monitoring of all facets of the state’s public behavioral health system.  Our mission here at ADHS is to promote, protect, and improve the health and wellness of individuals and communities in Arizona.  In behavioral health we do that by making sure that all individuals are able to easily access high quality prevention, support, rehabilitation and treatment services that have resiliency and recovery principles at their core, which assist individuals in achieving their unique goals for a desired quality of life in their homes and communities.   

The public behavioral health system in our State is delivered through a managed-care approach.  Managed care is a term used to describe a health insurance plan or health care system that coordinates the provision, quality and cost of care for its enrolled members. This approach is commonly used in the primary care sector.  For example, when you enroll in a managed care health plan, you will likely select a doctor to be your primary care physician or practitioner (PCP). Your PCP will then refer you to specialists or other health care providers or procedures as necessary. Those health care providers are usually from the managed care plan’s network of professionals and hospitals although some plans do allow you to go to practitioners outside their network.  Our system works in a similar fashion.  We have various types of behavioral health practitioners within our network that our enrolled members can use.  One of the key differences in our system compared to the typical managed care system is that our system is based on recovery-oriented principles.  This requires an additional level of monitoring and management oversight.   

Behavioral health practitioners in our network (mostly referred as providers), are contracted through our Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (RBHAs) and Tribal RBHAs. ADHS/DBHS provides leadership and management oversight to the T/RBHAs who then in turn, oversee and monitor the behavioral health providers.  These are divided by geographic service area (GSA).  To view a list of providers for Maricopa County, for example, you could visit our “Service Locator” and then click on the T/RBHA link that serves Maricopa County (hint: there is a map that shows which regions each T/RBHA serves).  You would then be taken to the T/RBHA website where you will find a link titled something like “Find a Provider” which will take you to its online directory of providers.  Alternatively, you can also call the T/RBHA at the customer service/member services phone number provided when you arrive at their website and ask for a provider near you.  They can easily find you one based on your zip code!

So to summarize….the Division of Behavioral Health Services works with all our partners and stakeholders to set the vision for behavioral health services in Arizona.  Once we all agree on that vision, then the Division begins the process of fiscal and contract management.  We will talk about what that means in my next blog installment.  Have a great day.


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