Blog post and article by Eleisha Wilkes, RN, RAC-CT

“Behavioral health services are an important component of fostering quality of life for that population we serve. As stated in the new Requirements of Participation, behavioral health encompasses a resident’s whole emotional and mental well-being which includes, but is not limited to, the prevention and treatment of mental and substance use disorders.

Providing effective behavioral health care and services requires an interdisciplinary approach to care, with qualified staff that demonstrate the competence and skills necessary to provide appropriate services to the resident. Individualized approaches to care must be provided as part of a supportive physical, mental, and psychosocial environment.

All too often, facilities and staff can feel ill-equipped to care for residents who exhibit challenging behaviors. Interventions are often depleted rapidly and, finding no alternative, referrals are made to alternate healthcare providers in hopes of managing the behavior. According to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), individuals with a behavioral health disorder¬† utilize significant health care services – nearly 12 million visits made to U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2007 involved individuals with a mental disorder, substance abuse problem, or both (2018). Frequently, emergency room visits or inpatient hospital stays result in the addition of medications that may or may not be necessary. While medical factors should always be considered and addressed, providers must develop skills, in managing the behavioral health needs of those we serve. It’s not surprising that there is a greater focus on behavioral health care needs and services under the Requirements of Participation and updated survey process.”