Continuity of Care

Continuity of Care: A Wide Range of Comprehensive Services

Mental illness, perhaps more than any other health condition, impacts every aspect of a person’s life: vocational, financial, physical, social, and familial.  This is why the continuity of care in mental health is so important.  The services in a well-designed system of care should be:

  • Systematic
  • Comprehensive
  • Integrated
  • Seamless
  • Individualized and “Person-centered”
  • Coordinated

The treatment and care of serious mental illness is a complicated matter, involving many different types of services, settings and professions.  A systematic approach is necessary to organize the different pieces into a comprehensive, integrated, seamless continuity of care.

The treatment of complex and long term health conditions such as mental illness is often thought of in terms of stages or levels of care.  Within each level there are many different types of care and people may need different services and levels of care at different times.   This is why it is so important for care to be individualized.

The most important element in any complex system of care is coordination.  Public mental health systems frequently employ care coordinators, case managers, or patient navigators to help people understand and access the many services they will need in their recovery. However, most Americans with mental health conditions do not receive care through these public systems.  For many of those people, a parent, sibling or other family member becomes the de facto care coordinator.

There are advantages and disadvantages to enrolling in both the public and private systems of care.  Whichever system your loved one happens to be in, you can improve his or her chances for recovery by being aware of the resources in your community and knowing how to access them.

Basic Types of Mental Health Care

  1. Promotion & Prevention
  2. Assessment, Diagnosis & Evaluation
  3. Community-based Continuing Care
  4. Acute Care
  5. Related Services (legal, financial, educational)

Need help finding services or navigating your local system of care?  Contact a Resource Specialist at



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