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Counterfeit Opioids, First Responder Hotlines, and Other Idaho Behavioral Health News

Mental health and substance misuse concerns have resonated across the United States, including BestNotes’ home state of Idaho. Check out this news roundup of some of the top behavioral health-related stories affecting the state.

Fentanyl-Laced Counterfeit Drugs Increasing in Idaho

Idaho law enforcement agencies are warning the public about a rising supply of pain medications laced with the opioid fentanyl, matching an increase that agencies across the nation have noticed. Idaho State Police (ISP) reports that troopers seized 195 fentanyl pills in 2019, and 20,000 in 2020. The agency has seized nearly 28,000 fentanyl pills in 2021 up to September.

ISP Sgt. Kurt Sproat notes that counterfeit pills are often disguised as prescription medications that may fool new drug users, causing dangerous overdoses. Nycole Thomas, RN, of Northpoint Recovery in Meridian says that the treatment center plans to expand from 22 beds to 48 due to a rising demand for overdose treatment.

Crisis Hotline Opening for Idaho First Responders

Magellan Health, Inc. is launching a free, confidential, 24-hour crisis line for Idaho workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes all first responders and frontline health-care workers, as well as Idaho National Guard citizen soldiers and airmen assisting hospitals experiencing a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Hotline callers can dial 1 (800) 327-7451 (TTY 711) to speak directly with a certified licensed mental health clinician. Callers can also be connected to information about other available resources for those responding directly to the pandemic.

Organizations Receive Over $17 Million in Idaho Community Program Grant Funds

Thirty-five organizations in Idaho have received more than $17 million in Idaho Community Program Grant funds, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for Child Care Development Fund. The awards have come through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

These funds aim to serve children who have experienced academic learning loss and need behavioral health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that will receive grant funds include:

Boys & Girls Clubs (6 statewide clubs)
Idaho Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs
Children’s Home Society of Idaho
Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (3 programs)
University of Idaho Extension (18 programs)
Idaho Resilience Project

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Have Potential for Idaho

Mental illness and drug overdoses are plaguing Idaho, but certified community behavioral health clinics could be the answer, Sen. Jeff Agenbroad (R-Nampa) and Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) write in an opinion piece for the Idaho Statesman. These facilities offer 24-hour crisis care and evidence-based services for individuals with behavioral health needs.

The lawmakers write that such clinics can help people avoid jail, reduce emergency department visits, and save taxpayer money. The Idaho Behavioral Health Council, appointed by Gov. Brad Little, has recommended that Idaho explore how to implement the certified community behavioral health clinic model.

Behavioral health providers in Idaho face many challenges. At BestNotes, we believe your EHR software shouldn’t be one of them.

We are committed to developing software that helps your practice function more efficiently, reducing the administrative burden for clinicians so they have more time to do what they do best. Get in touch with us today to find out what we can do for your practice!

date:  Oct 14, 2021
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Three Mental Health Trends Behavioral Health Providers Should Keep an Eye On

Like all other healthcare specialties, behavioral health is constantly evolving with new discoveries and information. Here are some of the top trends impacting the field of behavioral health today.

1. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an important tool for organizations that collect and analyze enormous amounts of data. Information generated by social media alone could provide valuable insights for mental health experts when analyzed with AI technologies like natural language processing.

According to an article in Scientific American, data generated by the more than 4 billion social media users across the globe could be used to help better detect mental illness. For example, in some countries, Facebook uses AI to scan for images and words that could indicate an increased risk of self-harm. AI tools then send alerts to trained human reviewers, who can share mental health resources with at-risk users.

2. Self-help apps

Along with telehealth, the use of mental health apps have exploded in the last few years. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, a global provider of market research studies, the global mental health app market is expected to reach a value of over $3.7 billion by 2027.

Some of the benefits of digital health, remote monitoring, and mental health apps include:

Better management of chronic conditions
Increased awareness and engagement in users
Potentially low costs for users
Decreased need for in-person visits with a provider, alleviating the shortage of mental health providers

However, the widespread availability of these apps has created other challenges. Consumers may be confused about which option is right for them. Many apps use evidence-based techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, but other apps may make claims that have not been scientifically supported. User privacy and data security are also potential concerns.

3. Reduced stigma

The increased use of social media and mental health apps have reduced much of the stigma around mental illness. More people are seeking help for mental health issues and discussing these topics online. At the same time, this has created additional challenges related to language and misinformation.

More social-media influencers are sharing their personal struggles with mental health issues. Unfortunately, not all the information these influencers share with their followers is accurate.

In addition, some of the language used to discuss mental health concerns online can be misused. For example, the term “gaslighting” has been widely used in recent years—often incorrectly. Some people have been accused of “gaslighting” another person simply because they denied an accusation or disagreed with another person.

Similarly, the term “narcissist” has been used to demean or invalidate others. In reality, it is a specific personality disorder with a particular set of symptoms.

Increased awareness of mental health concerns can get more people the help they need. However, mental health experts and influencers should be careful to use correct terms to avoid spreading misinformation.

As a behavioral health provider, you already have plenty of industry trends and changes to keep track of. Keeping your practice’s EHR updated shouldn’t have to be one of them.

BestNotes EHR solutions, created specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, include automatic updates to its documentation features. That means we do all the work to keep you compliant with federal, state, and accreditation requirements, so you have one less thing to stress about. Contact BestNotes today to learn more, or schedule a free demo.

date:  Oct 11, 2021
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Three Big Ways Virtual Reality Could Transform Mental Healthcare

When you think of virtual reality, what comes to mind?

Consumers may imagine interactive video games, or mind-bending movies like The Matrix. But healthcare professionals have been watching virtual reality (VR) move far beyond entertainment. In fact, the global healthcare VR market was $885.7 million in 2020, and is projected to grow to $11.7 billion in 2028.

What does that mean for behavioral health?

Here are three big ways that VR could help providers and clients.

1. Effective Trauma Treatment

Although the technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade, the use of VR for mental health is older than you may realize. Since the 1990s, the U.S. Veterans Affairs has been studying the use of VR to help treat combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VR allows veterans to revisit disturbing memories under controlled conditions, with a therapist’s guidance.

VR serves as a type of prolonged exposure therapy. Research indicates that VR treatment could help with schizophrenia, dementia, PTSD, anxiety disorders, paranoia, delusions, and some phobias. It can be helpful in individuals who have not gotten satisfactory results with standard treatments, such as talk therapy or medications.

2. Substance Misuse Prevention

Many patients who experience severe pain, whether acute or chronic, only experience relief with strong opioid medications. However, the use of opioid painkillers carries the risk of misuse and dependence, creating additional problems for patients.

Researchers have been finding that VR could help with pain management instead. VR programs can help create environments that reduce anxiety before a procedure, or even provide a soothing distraction during a procedure. The Los Angeles-based company AppliedVR has developed an opioid-sparing treatment for chronic pain that incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy.

3. Advancing Telehealth

After getting a big push forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is not going anywhere. VR promises to keep the momentum going with new opportunities for remote mental healthcare.

Writing for the World Economic Forum, Poppy Brown of the University of Oxford notes that many types of VR-based therapy can be automated, allowing clients to receive guidance from a virtual coach. This removes the need for a human therapist to be physically present for every session. This can allow more people to access treatment, lower therapy cost, and reduce burdens for clinicians.

VR carries enormous potential for many behavioral health conditions. While the technology is still improving (physical issues like motion sickness can still be an issue), it can help create a controlled environment for clients receiving mental health treatment. Because of its relative novelty, and because not all VR software or programs have been thoroughly studied, both clinicians and consumers should use caution and good judgment when choosing to use VR in healthcare.

Staying on the cutting edge of behavioral healthcare is essential for keeping your practice valuable and effective. While we’re not in the VR business yet, BestNotes is committed to developing software that helps your practice function more efficiently, reducing the administrative burden for clinicians so they have more time to do what they do best.

Get in touch with us today to take the next step in a more profitable and less frustrating workflow!

date:  Sep 27, 2021
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Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States: How Are We Doing?

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? This is an opportunity to look at the state of mental healthcare in the United States to identify trends and areas for improvement.

Despite Increased Demand, Behavioral Health Services Cut Back

Demand for behavioral health services has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), however, has found that some provider groups laid off staff or cut back on programs.

The GAO report referred to a 2020 survey by the National Council for Behavioral Health that found that 27 percent of 343 behavioral healthcare organizations cut back employees. Forty-five percent of the organizations cut some of their programs. The majority (65 percent) of organizations reported having to cancel, reschedule, or turn away patients in the summer of 2020, even as 52 percent reported an increase in demand.

Some providers have had to reduce inpatient beds to follow social distancing requirements. Others have had difficulty getting insurers to cover inpatient stays for patients with both physical and behavioral health diagnoses. While providers have tried to address these issues through telehealth visits or partnering with digital health resources that provide self-directed mental health resources to clients, it has not completely offset demand, especially for those who need in-person care.

Time to Rethink Physical and Behavioral Health Integration

Integrating primary care with behavioral health has been a goal and a challenge in healthcare for years. However, Ed Jones, PhD, senior vice president for the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, notes that the movement so far has not met the high expectations. In many cases, “integration” has been interchangeable with “coordination,” which doesn’t lead to much change. The same goes for collaboration and the patient-centered health home.

Instead, Jones suggests a model that leads to fundamental, transformational changes in primary or behavioral care. That model should target the failure of primary care to address health behaviors that affect chronic medical conditions associated with a majority of healthcare costs, along with the continued stigma of seeking help for mental health concerns. A new type of provider, which Jones calls the “primary care therapist,” can help address both the issue of behavior change and stigma. Therapists may work within primary care settings to help screen, counsel, and refer patients. The full article can be found at Behavioral Health Executive.

How Has Telehealth Affected Therapy During the Pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, infection control measures and the increased demand for mental health services has led many behavioral health providers to move to telehealth. Clinicians are attempting to address a backlog of appointments, while patients deal with long waitlists to see a provider. At Aspirus Wausau Hospital, the waiting period to see a psychiatrist is 8-12 weeks, and referrals have doubled over the last year. As more providers resume in-person services, there is hope that the backlogs will decline.

Increased demand and complex client needs have created challenges for behavioral health providers. Make your practice more efficient and improve client outcomes with BestNotes’ EHR solutions, customized to your unique needs. Contact BestNotes today to learn more and schedule a free demo.

date:  May 25, 2021
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Social Determinants of Health: What Behavioral Health Providers Should Know

Physical and mental health depends on a lot of different factors. Behaviors like diet and smoking status can affect our health, as well as uncontrollable factors, like genetics.

Even our environments and income levels can affect health outcomes. That’s the idea behind social determinants of health (SDOH), which include conditions related to where we live and work.

What are social determinants of health (SDOH)?

Healthy People 2030, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, groups SDOH into five general areas:

Economic Stability
Education Access and Quality
Health Care Access and Quality
Neighborhood and Built Environment
Social and Community Context

These SDOH include factors such as:

Access to safe housing
Experiences of violence or discrimination
Job opportunities and income level
Opportunities for physical activity
Exposure to pollution

These factors can have a significant impact on health and quality of life. For example, lack of access to healthy foods and few opportunities to exercise can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Individuals who live in urban areas with high levels of air pollution tend to have higher rates of asthma.

And those are just physical health concerns. SDOH can also affect mental health.

How do social determinants affect mental health?

For example, a person who experiences frequent violence in their neighborhood or home can experience chronic stress and anxiety. This, in turn, can affect physical health in ways that may include disturbed sleep and increased inflammation. When these negative experiences occur in childhood, they can also impact mental health in adulthood.

Certain neighborhood details can also influence mental health. A team of British researchers found statistically significant associations between the prevalence of depression and residential characteristics, such as “abundant graffiti” and lack of private outdoor space.

Research from the World Health Organization in 2014 found that certain populations around the globe are at higher risk of mental disorders due to exposure to unfavorable circumstances. These include war and other armed conflict, neglect in early childhood, and lack of access to clean water. (Download a PDF of the full report here.)

In the United States, researchers examined the health effects of the severe drought in California in 2015. Many affected households reported that the drought negatively affected their peace of mind. Those households who reported that the drought affected their finances or property were more likely to report that it impacted their peace of mind and stress levels.

By understanding how these factors impact a person’s health, behavioral health providers can gain a more complete picture of their clients’ needs and concerns. This can help guide treatment and may lead to better client outcomes. Social workers and other types of behavioral health providers also will be better prepared to advocate for their clients, when necessary.

To get started, consider learning which SDOH most affect your practice’s client population or geographic location. You may be working with local, county, or state health departments in this area. If your clients mention particular SDOH concerns, document it in their health record, if appropriate. When possible, work with your client to take action or point them toward specific resources to help mitigate some SDOH.

At BestNotes, we’re big fans of helping behavioral health providers and their clients achieve the best outcomes. Our OutcomeTools feature helps you gather, track, and report outcome data, saving you time and reducing frustration. Whether you’re following one client or many, it’s never been easier to gather outcome data. Contact BestNotes today to learn more.

date:  May 12, 2021
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