Oral health Mental Health Substance Use Challenges Toolkit

Oral Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment – toolkit

A Framework for Increased Coordination and Integration

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Bowling Business Strategies developed this toolkit in partnership with a group of national experts convened to help advance the field of oral health, mental health and substance use treatment coordination and integration.

Why is better coordination and integration of oral, mental health and substance use treatment services important? 

Challenges with oral health, mental health and substance use are exceedingly common in the United States and contribute heavily to the burden of disease in the nation.

There are a multitude of bi-directional connections between oral health and behavioral health (mental health and substance use challenges). In other words, having a mental health or substance use challenge such as depression, anxiety or substance use disorder (SUD) can negatively impact one’s oral health, and vice versa. Poor oral health can create or exacerbate problems with mental health, self-esteem, cognitive health, and substance use and impede social functioning in areas such as employability and school engagement. Untreated oral, mental health, and substance use challenges are costly and contribute to health disparities. Oral health, mental health, and substance use challenges have historically been undertreated in the United States, often with stark disparities in access to care. According to the most recent data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 90% of the 20.4 million Americans with a SUD received no treatment, and more than 55% of the 51.1 million Americans with any mental illness received no treatment. Racial disparities in oral health (dental) care utilization, while declining for children, largely remain for the adult and senior population. In a recent study, toothaches were one of the top causes of avoidable visits to the emergency room, suggesting a lack of access to regular oral health care. Emergency rooms are not only an expensive care setting but are often not fully equipped to treat oral health conditions.

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Click here to access toolkit via NCMW’s site

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