As more residents gain access to primary care, mental health, and substance use disorder services as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Community Health Centers will need to identify and address more behavioral health issues in their primary medical practice. Kern County’s Project Care is serving tens of thousands of patients by bringing behavioral health awareness and treatment to populations of county residents that had not previously considered, understood or otherwise been able to access service through traditional points of entry.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the best patient flow to encourage integrated practice and collaboration by behavioral health and primary care providers.
  • Understand critical support staff training needs in order to ensure the environment facilitates honest patient disclosure of mental health and substance use issues.
  • Make informed decisions about how to integrate the physical and behavioral health records so that the “team” takes responsibility for multiple aspects of care.
  • Engaging primary care providers in the appropriate referral of behavioral health patients, and getting the most from the behavioral health provider’s presence in the health center.


Lily Alvarez is the Kern County Behavioral Health System Administrator. As system administrator for behavioral health, Ms. Alvarez serves as the primary administrator responsible for the delivery of publicly funded substance abuse primary prevention and treatment services, CalWORKs behavioral health services, mental health vocational services, PC 1000 programs, drinking driver programs, and county-operated clinical services in Kern County according to federal, state, and local statutes and regulations.

Christopher Reilly, LMFT is the Chief of Behavioral Health Services for Clinica Sierra Vista, the central valley’s largest network of community health centers. He manages specialty mental health services to adults and children under contract with the County of Kern Mental Health Department, as well as mild/moderate and Substance Use Disorder services in Clinica’s primary care settings.

Darren Urada, PhD, is Principal Investigator and co-investigator on multiple studies on the integration of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services with primary care and mental health, and the effect of the Affordable Care Act ib SYD services. Previously, Dr. Urada also served as the Principal Investigator of California’s official statewide evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (aka Proposition 36).

Additional Resources