ST. CLOUD -- With the need for mental health services greater than ever, health officials are making sure their patients have the resources they need, when they need it.

CentraCare officials say they continue to see kids and adults dealing with prolonged stress brought on by the pandemic or varying factors.

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Jody Kirchner is the Director of the Integrated Behavioral Health program. She says prior to the pandemic, they had been offering this form of mental health care which blends care in one setting for medical conditions and behavioral health factors.

So if a patient is seeing their normal provider and have a new diagnosis or a behavioral health need we are available to come into the exam room and meet with the patient and provider. Then we would take over the care while the provider continues to see other patients.

Kirchner says often times meeting with an IBH provider in your primary clinic is more impactful for the patient, resulting in a just a few appointments.

Barbara Skodje-Mack is an Integrated Behavioral Health provider. She says this team based approach has a lot of benefits.

It can reduce stigma and increase access and recognizing how important our mental health is to our overall wellness.

Skodje-Mack says having a behavioral health specialist located in primary care settings not only provides easier access, but another person to bounce ideas and concerns off of.

She says often times these services are built right into regular checkups to address someone's physical and mental health.

Kirchner says the goal is to continue to expand Integrated Behavioral Health care throughout the CentraCare system.


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