Porter-Starke Services, a mental health provider, and HealthLinc, a
community health care provider, have completed their participation in a
year-long project aimed at coordinating care for individuals with mental
The two organizations were chosen to participate in a project conducted by
the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. In December,
representatives from both agencies joined health care organizations from six
other states in Washington, D.C. to present their findings.
The collaborative effort helped communities identify ways to coordinate care
for their patients who suffer both physical and mental illnesses.
Porter-Starke and HealthLinc noted that nearly one in five Americans has a
mental disorder and nearly two-thirds of people with mental illness do not
get the help they need. Mental illness can also take a toll on people’s
physical health, with a 2006 federal study revealing that persons with
mental illnesses die 25 years younger than the general population, largely
due to chronic medical conditions. Diabetes, hypertension, and coronary
artery disease are common medical conditions faced by those with serious
mental illness. Often, the mentally ill are too debilitated to seek care
from multiple providers for their mental and physical illnesses, according
to Porter-Starke and HealthLinc.
As a result of participating in the project, HealthLinc screened more than
800 individuals for depression. It also created two behavioral health
consultants in conjunction with Porter-Starke Services. “Participating in
the National Council’s collaborative project showed us new possibilities for
expanding access to comprehensive health care for mind and body,” said Beth
Wrobel, CEO of HealthLinc, formerly known as the Hilltop clinic. “When
organizations in the community work together, we can help people get better
and live productive lives.” Bob Franko, vice-president of development and
marketing, said the next step will be to work with all funding sources to
show the effectiveness of collaborative care, while also establishing the
necessary billing and payment systems. "It’s obvious that there is no health
without mental health and vice versa,” he said.