Bridging Between Behavioral Health and Epilepsy Care

Friday, April 12, 2019

The following is a guest article submitted to by Ron Manderscheid PhD, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors and National Association for Rural Mental Health.

The Epilepsy Foundation of America held its annual Skill Building Institute recently in Atlanta for staff from their local organizations. A principal focus of this year’s Institute was collaboration with new partners, specifically mental health service entities. I was privileged to participate in this landmark event.

More than 3 million Americans suffer from epilepsy and seizures. About half also suffer from mental health conditions, notably depression and anxiety. Hence, it is exceptionally important to build a bridge between behavioral health and epilepsy care.

Further, like mental health consumers, persons with epilepsy also suffer from significant pain and are more likely to be prescribed opioids than those who do not have epilepsy. Yet, opioid use also is a risk factor for precipitating (causing) seizures. Unfortunately, national data are not available to determine the prevalence of opioid use or addiction by those with epilepsy.

Let’s focus briefly on several ways the behavioral health field can collaborate with the Epilepsy Foundation and the providers it represents. Almost axiomatic (self-evident) is the assertion that behavioral health providers currently know next to nothing about epilepsy or its treatment. Hence, bridging activities assume great import if we are to work effectively with clients who have epilepsy and behavioral health conditions.

Read Dr. Manderscheid’s recommendations for a path forward, published in Behavioral Health Executive, April 9, 2019.

Authored by: Ron Manderscheid PhD on 4/2019

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