Senior Behavioral Health Services.

It seems that now more than ever, mental health is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and not a moment too soon. More often than not, seniors face a long list of social or behavioral obstacles, and it benefits to have the ability to recognize and address these issues early on. That’s why we have health centers near you that are staffed with behavioral health specialists, medical social workers, and psychiatrists. These roles work closely with your Medicare primary care physician in making sure you get your needs met, and that you see a marketable change in your life.

Medical social worker (MSW)

Our medical social workers’ primary focus is to engage with the patient and to find out what they need to sustain a healthy life at home. Whether that means making sure there is enough food, a safe place to live, or even if they need to be in a long-term care facility — they assess each situation individually, and put a plan in place. The medical social worker also addresses the mental health concerns of their patients, but since they aren’t behavioral health specialists, they don’t engage patients in therapy. However, they can help to escalate situations they deem necessary to the appropriate care team member, and add preventative measures like additional frequent touchpoints with the patients which helps in keeping them out of the hospital more often. Medical social workers work closely with patients who are deemed having high social needs, chronic health conditions, high medical costs, admitted to the hospital, and/​or have mortality concerns.

A medical social worker will work closely with community resources such as food pantries, department of aging, department of rehabilitation, and other organizations in the care of our patients. This could be for things like homemaker services, even home food deliveries.

For a patient to be seen by a medical social worker, they either need to be referred to by their senior primary care doctor, or they are flagged in one of our regular questionnaires relating to food and housing security.

Behavioral health specialists

Our behavioral health specialists focus on both the behavioral and mental health of our patients; with an emphasis toward psychotherapy and one-on-one patient sessions. If a patient needs medication, they work with center psychiatrists to make sure they get the required medicine. The behavioral specialists also work closely with the rest of the care team, including: the Medicare primary care doctor, nurses, medical assistant, medical social worker, even the welcome coordinator, and outreach coordinator. Having all these contact points help the behavioral health specialist to quickly assess the patients’ needs, as well as appro­pria­te­ness of services best suited for the treatment of their condition.

Behavioral health conditions we treat, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Common questions

  • When should someone seek out a behavioral health specialist?

    Anytime. Seeking behavioral health can be when you are feeling well — to prevent stressful reactions — and when you feel like you need help. The concerns you are experiencing are not too big or too small to ask for help. If you think they are causing you stress or disrupting your lifestyle or mood behavior, then it’s time to speak to someone.

  • Are there steps to take before seeing a behavioral health specialist?

    To be seen by a behavioral health specialist you have to be an established patient at Oak Street Health, having gone through a welcome visit and a wellness review visit, and have insurance that allows you to see a behavioral health specialist. This allows us to be fully integrated in your care and work with your medical team for an overall wellness approach.

  • What does our behavioral health program specialize in?

    Issues related to mental health are problematic for everyone, no matter what your age. That’s why Oak Street Health provides behavioral health specialists to help you better understand some of the issues you’re having. Specially trained staff in areas of social work, psychiatry and behavioral health, will tend to your needs, making sure you get the help right for you. This help can come in the form of working with a medical social worker who will assist with social issues — like securing food or housing, one-on-one therapy sessions with a behavioral health specialist, or medication from a psychiatrist. Each one of these team members will work closely with your Medicare primary care doctor and entire care team in creating a plan of action.