Shaping the Future of Behavioral Health
Donald Parker, President & CEO of Carrier Clinic, explains how his organization is providing hope and treatments to help those struggling with behavioral health issues and how they’re working towards shaping the future of behavioral health.
"We're pleased to be joined by Donald Parker, who is President and CEO of Carrier Clinic. Good to see you. Hey Steve. For those who don't know Carrier Clinic, it is...? The oldest private psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. We're 109 years old. We're also the largest psychiatric hospital… private psychiatric hospital in New Jersey and the fourth largest in the country. And as we speak, toward the end of 2018, there's a bit of a merger taking place. Describe it. Well, we are really blessed with the opportunity to join the Hackensack Meridian Health System. We are now pending Attorney General approval. We expect within the next month, we'll receive that and we will then combine our organizations as of the beginning of the year. Talk about behavioral health. First of all, define behavioral health, then let's talk about the future of it as you see it. Well Steve, many people have many definitions of behavioral health, and in our organization, we really look at the malfunctioning of the brain. And that can happen in a variety of different ways, either through psychiatric illnesses or addiction. Both of them have a genetic basis, they're both diseases, so we treat them like that. We don't really look at it on a social basis, although we do a lot of work with our patients around social issues, but they're diseases. And the fact that they haven't been treated as diseases has left us where we are today. And we're way behind all other areas of the body, all other organs. We're behind? We're way behind. Define behind? Well, think about the comparison of polio, 1955. 1,500 people died. That was an epidemic. Today, 72,000 people died last year from substance abuse. You would think we would have some cures for that, and we are failing. It went up from 63,000 in the year prior to this. So, it's an unusual epidemic. Donald, I want to talk about the opioid crisis. Isn't there... or is there a clear correlation between the opioid crisis and behavioral health issues? When people say, "Hey, this is the larger piece of the pie that we need to be dealing with." Or... well... position of the political... I hate to say this... one of the press conferences by a political elected official... "Hey, that's my number-one issue." Well, isn't it a behavioral health issue? It's a behavioral health issue. And you know, while we have separate treatment modalities, we also intersect in a lot of different ways on how we treat patients and all of our treatment methodologies today are lacking the science behind them. We have medication behind them. But in terms of the science, that's necessary, really, to respond to the kind..."