A New Approach to Behavioral Health



On this podcast, Grant Mitchell, MD, describes the new Mount Sinai-Behavioral Health Center, a radical reimagination of how to deliver mental health care. From the welcoming physical environment with natural light and outdoor spaces, the Center inspires hope when each patient comes through the door. Dr. Mitchell stresses how the Center strives to erase the stigma of mental health care, while also addressing all the patient’s physical health care needs.

[00:00:00] Stephen Calabria: From the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, this is Road to Resilience, a podcast about facing adversity. I'm Stephen Calabria.

[00:00:09] Today on the show we welcome Grant Mitchell, MD, who serves as the Site Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Mitchell is also helping lead Mount Sinai's new, state-of-the-art behavioral health center on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

[00:00:28] Among other things, the new 1350,000 square-foot facility offers a new approach to treatment for substance use, mental illness, and primary care, by integrating all of those services into one location. We're pleased to have Dr. Mitchell on the show.

[00:00:44] Dr. Grant Mitchell. Welcome to Road to Resilience.

[00:00:51] Dr. Grant Mitchell: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:52] Stephen Calabria: Could you start us off by giving an overview of your background?

[00:00:56] Dr. Grant Mitchell: Sure. I'm a psychiatrist for I guess about 30 years now. I have spent most of my career involved in really providing services to a population that experiences more severe psychiatric illnesses and have been in a position of being able to both create, improve services for that population.

[00:01:23] Stephen Calabria: You're on the show because you are helping spearhead the opening and creation of a new behavioral health center in downtown Manhattan, in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Before we get into the particulars of it, why was a new behavioral health center needed, do you think?

[00:01:41] Dr. Grant Mitchell: That's a great question. Most of us who've been in the field for a while have heard over the years from patients and families, staff, members of the community, a variety of ideas for how behavioral health could be delivered in a different way to better meet their needs. This opportunity came up a number of years ago and we thought what a great way to begin to put all those thoughts down on paper and think about if we were building a new center, how would we do it? What would the design look like?

[00:02:17] What would the programming look like? And so it really came out of listening to those that we serve, who told us there must be a better way.

[00:02:29] Stephen Calabria: This particular spot is an inspired choice. On the Bowery, on the Lower East Side, it's a heavy trafficked area. Was it a conscious choice to place the Behavioral Health Center here or did that kind of happen by happenstance?

[00:02:45] Dr. Grant Mitchell: There really were a number of factors. So one was, we had an idea of how much space we would need to be able to create the program There were a limited number of buildings in the city that met those criteria. So that was the first. The second was that when we looked at this building, it just had a tremendous amount of charm.

[00:03:06] And we thought we could both preserve the architectural features of the building from the late 1800s while still being able to create a brand new facility inside those walls. So that was the, the second factor. And the third is that, we knew that a significant portion of our patients came from the zip codes around this particular area, so that this would be a convenient location for them.

[00:03:35] And then finally, we also knew that there was a need for these services in the community.

[00:03:42] Stephen Calabria: Before we get into the physical space of the Behavioral Health Center, you've talked about how it's not the space itself that makes the place unique, but the clinical model. What did you mean by that?

[00:03:55] Dr. Grant Mitchell: So basically the thought here was that it really is about how do we deliver better services, more convenient, more efficient, and that better meet the needs of our patients and the community.

[00:04:08] And then the building is really designed around that. How do we create a place? that can serve to support the goals that we had for this center.

[00:04:21] Stephen Calabria: Do behavioral health centers often not pay attention to that?

[00:04:25] Dr. Grant Mitchell: You know, oftentimes behavioral health centers have been around a while and those facilities are often on the older side and really weren't built with the kinds of thinking that we put into this building today. So for example, older buildings for behavioral health tend to have three and four bedded rooms, which are really not desirable these days. And they tend to have an institutional feel.

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