A counseling session

Project Background

Since 2016, the Pinellas Behavioral Health System of Care (PBHSOC), with a membership of 50 community stakeholders, has been coordinating and collaborating to alleviate gaps and sustain limited behavioral health resources. This is a community-based group with the goal of finding community-based solutions.

Meeting the Need in Pinellas County

Through a 2016 needs assessment and prioritization process, the group identified a Centralized Receiving Service (CRS) as a priority gap and continues to support the need for this service. In addition, the Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST), a ministry organization made up of 38 religious congregations in Pinellas County, has also made the need for a Centralized Receiving System a strategic goal for the organization.

As long-standing experienced and qualified agencies within Pinellas County, the members of PBHSOC are strongly committed to improving access to behavioral health care services and have invested significant time and financial resources, particularly over the past five years, to address some of the greatest barriers to care. The intent of the group is to continue building upon the progress made in developing multi-faceted systems of care, which focus on sustainable financing, cross-system collaboration, the creation of policy/infrastructure, evidenced-based approaches, and innovative data-driven practices.

The members of PBHSOC offer a continuum of mental health and substance use care, located at multiple ambulatory, intermediate care and inpatient psychiatric facilities throughout Pinellas County. The continuum possesses the core competencies and practice framework to address the major goals and objectives of a Centralized Receiving System and at the same time have a focus on the understanding of the contextual social determinants impacting health, particularly among the most vulnerable populations. A few of the services provided through PBHSOC for adults and children include:

Despite these efforts, there remains critical gaps in the system of care. Individuals with psychiatric, substance use and co-occurring behavioral or health disorders are populations with complex needs, which usually result in poorer outcomes and utilization of high cost services.

The Wellness Connection is a community collaborative to improve access to behavioral health services. Through on-site and virtual collaboration between behavioral health treatment providers, local acute care receiving facilities, community primary care providers, homeless providers, NAMI, law enforcement, educational institutions, and the faith-based community, Pinellas County can ultimately create and sustain a seamless integrated behavioral health care system, where individuals can receive appropriate, timely, and quality behavioral health care. The Wellness Connection serves as a single point of entry and virtual hub that links the spokes of the ambulatory community network through a “no wrong door” approach to screening and assessment. Case management, care coordination, and outpatient services will assure rapid linkage and connectivity.