Colorado Access Partners With Planned Parenthood of the Rockies for Comprehensive Behavioral Health Checks

Concerned over a recent study published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), Colorado Access announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) to decrease emergency room visits related to behavioral health and suicide attempts.

The study, published on February 3, found a significant increase in emergency room visitations due to suicide attempts between March – October 2020, compared to 2019.

READ: A Master Guide to Mental Health Resources In and Around Denver

 

“With the increased stress and anxiety that we’re all under and the uncertainty of what our futures look like, there are so many things happening that create higher levels of baseline stress and anxiety,” explained Rob Bremer, PhD, vice president of network strategy at Colorado Access. “I think there’s been a focus on behavioral health since the pandemic and it’s reducing the stigma; we’re talking about it more.”

Colorado Access, the state’s Medicaid contractor, announced the partnership with PPRM in September 2021. But as of May 17, patients at the Planned Parenthood location in Littleton were already receiving a behavioral health screening as part of their visit.

As part of the screening, patients are asked to complete a short questionnaire related to depressive symptoms to catch mental health issues early on during primary care visits and provide resources going forward. “We had the realization that a lot of depressive symptoms get missed if they’re not screened more systematically for it,” said Bremer. 

Before rolling out the routine screenings at all Planned Parenthood clinics, Colorado Access debuted a pilot program at the nonprofit’s Littleton location. Bremer says during the pilot program, the clinic expressed that depression and depressive symptoms were a growing concern among patients.

The program also partnered with the mental health service provider, Lifestance, to refer patients to in-network behavioral health service providers.

“When you go to the doctor, you get your blood pressure checked, your weight checked. This is just like that,” said Bremer. He hopes this is a step towards prioritizing mental health during routine checkups and primary care visits in healthcare and among Medicaid patients in Colorado.

Colorado Access’ long-standing relationship with PPRM created the perfect opportunity to kickstart the new program. “Many of our clinics are already doing fairly routine [behavioral health] screenings, but this is the model we want all of our clinics to follow as best practice,” said Bremer.

To find out more about Colorado Access and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, visit here