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Learn about Behavioral Health Systems in Utah

Learn about Behavioral Health Systems in Utah

Behavioral health systems are groups of mental health providers that offer complementary services streamlined through a single healthcare network. These networks are often anchored by one or more hospital care facilities, while also managing any number of outpatient treatment programs.

Keep in mind, however, that for a mental health screening or basic therapy services, accessing these networks may not be required. By working from a list of qualified therapists, psychologists, and physicians who accept your insurance plan or a private-pay arrangement, it’s usually possible to find first-line mental health services. (About half of licensed psychologists go into private practice, for example, rather than take a position with a healthcare institution.)

On the other hand, for someone with a serious mental illness, it can be helpful to understand how these health systems work and who the major players are in Utah:


Valley Behavioral Health

Formerly known as Valley Mental Health, this is one of the best examples of behavioral health systems in Utah in that it focuses solely on mental health services, while still managing more than a thousand different providers across numerous sites. As the primary Medicaid vendor for Salt Lake, Tooele, and Summit Counties—and one of the largest providers of mental health services in the state—efficiency is critical to the organization’s mission and its use of federal taxpayer dollars. It’s also been a source of controversy in recent years.


Behavioral Health and Integrated Care Networks

More often, behavioral health systems are one part of a larger healthcare network. This style of integrated care allows patients an easy way to access services within the network. There is greater efficiency within the system itself but less choice, especially for those whose insurance coverage is tied to a specific healthcare network.

Major healthcare network providers in Utah include:

  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • IASIS Healthcare
  • MountainStar Healthcare

To better understand how this all works, let’s consider a local example. With several healthcare facilities to manage, MountainStar designated Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful to be its go-to site for inpatient geriatric services. With this specialty designation, the hospital developed Senior Pathways, an innovative program of inpatient behavioral health care for seniors and the elderly. However, at another MountainStar site, Ogden Regional Medical Center, there is no behavioral health unit at all. Instead, this site focuses on a different set of specialized services.


Other Behavioral Health Systems in Utah

  • University of Utah Healthcare/Neuropsychiatric Institute: The University Neuropsychiatric Institute is on the cutting edge of behavioral health. Due to its high degree of specialization and advanced services, this single site receives referrals from surrounding states that, according to the Utah Hospital Association, encompass 10 percent of the continental United States. The institute is overseen by University of Utah Healthcare and the School of Medicine. The University of Utah also provides an opportunity to show how different behavioral health systems will sometimes partner together for specialized services and treatment programs. The Primary Children’s Hospital, for example, is part of Intermountain Healthcare but also serves as the pediatric teaching hospital for the university and, as such, the two organizations can more readily combine their resources.
  • Utah State Hospital: This hospital is run by the Utah Department of Human Services and the Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health. A huge 350-bed facility with a large staff and resource support from the state government, this is a huge health site for forensic referrals and other individuals with serious mental illness.
  • Highland Ridge and Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospitals: As largely standalone sites, these struggle to fit the definition of a behavioral health system. Yet, as hospital care facilities dedicated solely to the delivery of mental health services, they offer a wide range of specialties that are comparable to many health network systems.



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