Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced DeKalb Community Service Board (CSB) as a recipient of a $1.6 million Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration grant to expand the agency’s mental health care and primary health care integration initiatives with Oakhurst Medical Center. DeKalb CSB is a public nonprofit provider of mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in DeKalb County, GA. The agency was one of 32 sites selected nationally to receive this federal grant that supports coordinated and integrated services by co-locating primary and specialty care medical services in community-based mental and behavioral health settings. The goal of this 4-year grant is to improve the physical health status of adults with serious mental illnesses who have, or are at risk for, co-occurring primary care conditions and chronic disease.

Following a national trend to integrate mental health and primary health care, the DeKalb CSB and Oakhurst Medical Centers have been collaborating on delivering integrated care to the citizens of DeKalb County for several years. DeKalb CSB’s Chief Medical Officer, and the project’s Program Director, Joseph Bona, MD, said, “This SAMHSA grant validates our commitment to integrated care for all our clients who might otherwise go without. Together with our partner, the Oakhurst Medical Centers, we expect to expand access to high quality care while modeling an innovative health-home approach. We believe that with our ‘one-stop approach’ we can assist clients to achieve the triple aim of improved health and enhanced access delivered in a convenient cost-effective setting.”

Jeff Taylor, CEO of Oakhurst Medical Centers, said, “It is imperative in today’s health care environment to move toward the blending of behavioral health and primary health care services. DeKalb CSB and Oakhurst have been committed to setting the standard for integration.”

Many studies show that mental health and physical health are intrinsically linked. Medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, cancer and pulmonary diseases are much more common in those with mental illness. Federal data indicate that persons with severe mental illness die on average 25 years younger than other Americans often due to lack of primary medical care. An Institute of Medicine report concluded that only through the integration of primary health care with mental health and substance abuse service can outcomes be improved.

About DeKalb CSB
The DeKalb Community Service Board (DeKalb CSB) is an innovative, community-based behavioral health and developmental disabilities services organization located in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. As a public, not-for-profit organization, the DeKalb CSB operates more than 20 locations in DeKalb County and employs a diverse workforce of more than 500 direct care and support staff.