Some self-medicate as a way of dealing with their condition, with the potential for developing substance use disorder and its challenges. For many, their condition makes it difficult to find or maintain stable employment leading to poverty, homelessness, and troubling encounters with the criminal justice system. Research shows that offenders with mental illness and substance use disorder recidivate at a higher rate than undifferentiated offenders.
Additionally, persons with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, tend to have higher recidivism rates than those with other psychiatric disorders. (Zgoba et al., 2020) And, although the risk of suicide differs depending on the mental illness, some mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and alcoholism, present higher risks of suicide. A more collaborative, holistic, integrated approach to care is required to better serve individuals with mental illness.
Integrated care is care provided by “…a practice team of primary care and mental health clinicians, working together with patients and families … [that] may address mental health and substance use conditions, health behaviors (including their contribution to chronic medical illnesses), the life stressors and crises, stress-related physical symptoms, and ineffective patterns of health care utilization.” (Brown et al., 2021) CHOP is, an integrated model of health care delivery, which accounts for the risk factors experienced by those with mental illness, as it brings quality service, expertise, procedures, and collaboration through a well-coordinated, interdisciplinary medical team approach into the behavioral care setting. CHOP is the primary care arm of the practice team, providing “early, on-site treatment intervention of controllable and curable diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer screenings…” saving patients from unnecessary disease and illness, and the health care system from unnecessary and costly hospital visits. (Salerno Medical Associates, n.d.) At present, Salerno Medical Associates collaborates with the Mental Health Association of Morris and Essex County to provide comprehensive primary care services to their clients. This innovative collaboration is not without its challenges as the current health care system does not provide for the seamless integration of these services.