Prism Health North Texas has been named part of a consortium receiving funds from the Minority AIDS Initiative: Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations at High Risk for HIV/AIDS grant offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant works to increase engagement in care for racially and ethnically underrepresented individuals who have substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders who also are at risk of contracting or who are living with HIV/AIDS. PHNTX received $2.5 million of the grant funds to further invest in behavioral health services for its patients in the North Texas region.
“The significant stigmas impacting our patients are intersectional,” Raymond Castilleja Jr., LCSW-S, MBA, MHSM, Director of Behavioral Health said. “There is stigma associated with mental health, with substance abuse, with being on PrEP medication, and with being HIV positive, all presenting barriers to accessing consistent and effective care. These funds will allow us to invest further in our integrated behavioral health program, Supporting Treatment, Empowerment, and Progress (STEP), which supports patients in need of this type of care, which is even more difficult to access for the uninsured.”
As part of the STEP program, the behavioral health team at PHNTX connects patients to direct services including access to individual and group counseling, psychiatric services, recovery support services, substance abuse or misuse treatment, transportation assistance, case management, PrEP services and HIV medical care. STEP is designed to reach focus populations that are typically marginalized and most impacted by substance use disorder, and/or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder who are at risk for HIV or are HIV positive: racial and ethnic minorities, Black men who have sex with men (MSM), Hispanic MSM, White MSM, and transgender individuals.
The behavioral health team is well versed in addressing stigmas that can prevent patients from pursuing care due to shame and fear of the vulnerability that comes with reaching out for support. The team hopes to further convey that recovery is both positive and possible: clients living with HIV can manage their condition and those with negative status can reduce their risk of infection while working to manage other conditions and/or seeking support for addiction issues.
“The importance of integrated behavioral health and primary health care cannot be understated,” said Rochelle Turner, LMSW, LCDC, Behavioral Health Project STEP Manager. “Our goal is to remove barriers to primary care and to either reduce potential exposure to HIV and to support our patients in maintaining a state of viral suppression; offering support and resources encourages our patients to be in a better position to manage other conditions including mental health and substance issues. Integrated, consistent, and personalized care is key to our patients’ success.”
The funds provided by this SAMHSA grant will go far in supporting PHNTX’s 13,000+ patients in North Texas. The organization operates four health centers, three pharmacies, three dental practices, and two additional services centers, all providing care to patients regardless of insurance or socioeconomic status.
“SAMHSA programs such as these are representative of our commitment to helping America’s communities reduce disease transmission,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., who leads SAMHSA, said in a release. “They also help equip communities to facilitate people’s access to appropriate treatments and recovery support for their mental health and substance use disorders.”