Vita Health

Why Collaborative Care Is the Future

Healthcare is evolving based on the idea that true health means physical AND mental wellness. I believe psychiatric collaborative care is the missing piece to the puzzle.

By Cydney Swadinsky

Cydney is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She holds a National Certified Counselor certification through NBCC and is working with Vita as a collaborative care manager in Colorado.

Imagine a patient named Jenny.

When Jenny gets sick or needs a check-up, odds are she goes to her primary care physician’s office. The problem is Jenny, like one in four Americans, is battling an undiagnosed mental health issue

And it’s likely her primary care doc will be the first to hear about her symptoms. 

This isn’t an uncommon story. Health estimates that primary care providers deliver up to 60% of the mental health services in this country. 

And it’s this figure that makes me sure psychiatric collaborative care or CoCM is the future. 

Let me explain more.

It’s no secret we’re facing a mental health crisis. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of Americans reported a “significant increase” in anxiety and depression symptoms in the past few years. The same study found only 10% got the help they needed.  

We also know, without a doubt, that mental and physical wellness are inextricably linked. It’s  hard to have one without the other. 

Psychiatric collaborative care brings mental health services into primary care settings — allowing us to address mental and physical health issues together. 

Same time, same place. 

Here’s how it works with Vita. 

I’m a licensed professional counselor trained in mental health diagnosis and care. And, in my role at Vita, I'm embedded in a primary care setting. I help doctors identify people in need of mental health services and to assist with linking them to needed services quickly.   

I participate in weekly “rounds” with both our Vita psychiatrists and the primary care doctors to share information and plan ahead to meet the individual patient needs. 

The results of this model are clear: 

Patients in collaborative care models show a 30-50% improvement in their mental health outcomes, compared to those in a traditional care model. 

And, for patients, collaborative care participation means reduced hospitalizations and lower emergency room department utilization. 

So if Jenny’s primary care doc had a collaborative care partnership — Jenny might have met with someone like me after her annual check-up. 

We'd go over her symptoms and complete mental health screenings. Then, I'd help her get care — in collaboration with the psychiatrists at Vita.

In a collaborative care model, Jenny’s primary care physician would be kept in the loop about everything. They would know what medicines Jenny’s taking and the progress she’s making in therapy. 

After watching this model work first-hand, I believe provider collaboration is key.

Together, we can see how physical symptoms might be related to mental health challenges. This model also allows people access to the health care they need, while ensuring care is maintained over the long term. 

We’re happy to share information about our collaborative care program with providers and hospital systems. And I would be delighted to tell you more about the progress I have seen with my patients. 

Reach out to us today to schedule a conversation. We’re eager to share knowledge with and learn from others in the field. 


Interested in joining the Vita Care Team?

Visit our open roles