Behavioral Health Care Manager

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The Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM) coordinates the group and ensures effective communication among team members. BHCMs are typically nurses, psychologists, social workers or licensed counselors; however, the ability to perform, assign, and plan out the tasks that need to be completed is much more important than credentials one holds.

A BHCM is a behavioral health professional, typically a counselor, clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse, who performs all the care management tasks including psychotherapy when that is part of the treatment plan. A BHCM is not the same as a case manager or a behavioral health consultant (Which Flavor of Integrated Care? describes the difference between collaborative care and the behavioral health consultant model). 

Job Description

Effective BHCMs support the PCP in their role by

  • participating in diagnosis and treatment planning
  • coordinating treatment
  • providing proactive follow-up of treatment response
  • alerting the PCP when the patient is not improving
  • supporting medication management
  • facilitating communication with the psychiatric consultant regarding treatment changes
  • offer brief counseling (using evidence-based techniques such as motivational interviewing, behavioral activation, and problem-solving treatment

Some BHCM duties and responsibilities can be assigned to other members of the care team. However, BHCMs on a collaborative care team need to build a unique set of clinical skills specific to practicing in primary care and other healthcare settings.

FTE Guidelines

We recommend, as much as feasible, hiring BHCMs as full-time or nearly full-time staff. BHCMs who are assigned numerous other duties in a fast-paced clinic setting often fall behind on effectively managing their CoCM caseload. It may mean that the BHCM position must cover two or more smaller clinics to justify the FTE. 

Caseload Guidelines

A full-time behavioral health care manager should typically oversee a max of 120 patients, depending on how the program is structured. Review the BHCM caseload guidelines to better determine the appropriate caseload size per BHCM for your organization.