Those with a mental health disorder or substance abuse disorder can often manage their symptoms and live a productive lives, and often with the help of treatment. Early diagnosis is important. Individual paths to recovery differ, and treatments and supportive services should be tailored to fit individual needs. For many people with behavioral health problems the most effective approach often involves a combination of counseling and medication. Supportive services, such as case or care management, can also play an important role in promoting health and recovery.

Counseling and more specialized psychotherapies seek to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations. Counseling is provided by trained clinicians such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors.

Prescription medications also are an important resource for treating mental and substance use disorders. Medications work better for some people than others, even if they have the same disorders. Medication effectiveness can also change over time, so it is not uncommon for a person to find that the medication needs to be changed or adjusted even after it has been working. It is important for people receiving medications for behavioral health problems to have regular contact with the prescribing provider to ensure that the approach being used continues to be safe and effective.

Medication tends to be most effective when it is used in combination with counseling or psychotherapy.

Medications are also increasingly being used to treat substance use disorders. This practice, often referred to as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.

Supportive services are critical components of a behavioral health system and can help people meet their treatment goals. Supportive services take a variety of forms. Case or care management can coordinate behavioral health services with housing, employment, education, and other supports. Frequently, when individuals are involved in multiple public systems it is important for a single point of contact to coordinate care and engage all the system partners in service planning and delivery.

Recognizing the importance of treatment many still go without needed behavioral health treatment. However as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a range of health plans are being required to cover essential benefits including mental health and substance abuse treatments. The Affordable Care Act extends the impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) so that many health plans must offer coverage for mental health or substance use disorders. WiBHA will advocate for the parity of behavioral health services with other physical health treatment plans.