Integrating Primary Care & Behavioral Health at Lynn CHC: Kiame Mahaniah & Mark Alexakos

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Primary care models integrating behavioral health services are being adopted across the country. This week, we talked with two leaders at the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC), Dr. Mark Alexakos and Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, about their experience with integration.

LCHC is unique among community health centers in that it started out as a mental health counseling center, and now has the largest community health center-based behavioral health program in Massachusetts. In this conversation, we talk about what it means to integrate behavioral health services with primary care clinical services – how it can reduce the fragmentation of services to better meet the needs of patients and the demand for mental health care (2:40), why it may better position clinics participating in accountable care (7:40), what successes they’ve seen (8:45), and the resources it has required (12:28). Along the way, our guests make it clear that the staff at LCHC love working in integrated teams. You can learn more about various other models of integrated behavioral health here.

Mark Alexakos MD, MPP, is the chief behavioral health officer of LCHC. He has a joint degree in medicine and public policy and developed an early interest in the interface between policy, research, and service delivery as they relate to access barriers, health disparities, and community health. Before working at LCHC, he spent seven years developing intensive, school-based mental health services that combined health promotion and prevention with quick access to behavioral health treatment in five Boston Public Schools.

Kiame Mahaniah, MD, is the chief executive officer of LCHC, though at the time of this interview, he served as the chief medical officer. His passion resolves around social and restorative justice, in the context of healthcare.   His twin clinical interests are teaching—he holds an appointment at the Tufts University School of Medicine—and integrating opioid addiction treatment into the primary care/behavioral health matrix.

This interview was edited lightly for length and clarity.

photo credit: Lynn Community Health Center