Dr. Mary Yancy Imagines a World Where Mental Health Services are Standard Practice in Healthcare

Imagine a world where mental and behavioral health services are a standard part of our overall healthcare. That we feel no stigma, that effective treatments are accessible and affordable, much like the management of diabetes or high blood pressure. In reality we have a long way to go. Recently, Mental Health America’s Access to Care ranking – which measures access to and quality of insurance, treatments and services, and special education – put Texas dead last.


In Travis County, Integral Care is a leader in what I hope will become a paradigm shift, lowering the barriers to behavioral health. There’s no doubt in my mind that Integral Care is one of the least recognized, biggest difference-makers in our community.


As a practicing psychologist with a long history in the Austin community, I’m constantly reminded of the great need and gross inequities in mental health options. For those without financial means, it can seem impossible to navigate.


I’m hard put to find referrals for the many people that contact our practice with a narrow insurance network or looking for affordable out-of-pocket services. And it’s likely that free or affordable care settings have wait lists and limits on what they can provide. All too often a person suffering a manic episode, suicidal ideation, or a drug overdose, will end up in an ER for crisis stabilization, but have scant options for continued, comprehensive treatments that create lasting change.


With our country’s suicide rates at gut-wrenching levels, I am particularly thankful to Integral Care’s development of Suicide Safe Care Centers and identification and treatment of our at-risk youth. I know firsthand of young people whose lives were likely saved by these supports.


This 4th of July I revisited the Declaration of Independence, where the word happiness appears not once but twice in a single paragraph. It describes our human self-evident right to pursue happiness, and our government’s foundation as organized on principles “that seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”


If “true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” Integral Care is how we measure up.


~ Mary Yancy, PhD