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January 1, 2006
by Douglas J. Edwards, Managing Editor
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Welcome to the first issue of the brand-new magazine Behavioral Healthcare. OK, I admit that Behavioral Healthcare isn't exactly a new kid on the block. For starters, it's the result of the combination of two long-running and respected magazines serving the field: Behavioral Health Management (BHM) and Behavioral Healthcare Tomorrow (BHT). BHM had 25 years of experience under its belt, having started as Alcoholism, the National Magazine, then becoming Alcoholism & Addiction, later called Addiction & Recovery, before being rechristened as Behavioral Health Management. Last year BHM merged operations with BHT, itself a publication with 14 years of history with two publishers (yet more title stability!), and together we are debuting in this issue as the new, monthly Behavioral Healthcare. Few magazines probably have undergone so many changes in such a short time but, then again, few healthcare specialties have seen so many changes.

Mental health and substance abuse treatments have undergone stunning changes since Behavioral Healthcare's two founding publications debuted in the early 1980s and early 1990s. An explosion in pharmaceutical treatments has moved a large part of care delivery from the couch to the pharmacy counter. New technologies are enabling providers to accurately and efficiently document treatment outcomes. The stigma surrounding behavioral health conditions—while still strong—has lessened somewhat as the work of advocates, government campaigns and, yes, even those prime-time pharmaceutical commercials have put more of a human face on the sufferers of these disorders. At the same time, managed care has changed the reimbursement landscape as government regulations like HIPAA have redefined how providers handle clinical documentation.

Behavioral Healthcare's two predecessors have changed along with the field. BHM (as its previous incarnations) has moved from keeping patient-level care providers up to date on the latest trends in substance abuse—an area now served by Behavioral Healthcare's sister publication, Addiction Professional (www.addictionpro.com)—to reaching the executive and clinical decision makers that determine who receives what kind of care and where and when. The magazine has gone from describing the nuances of substance abuse therapy to describing how to survive—and get paid—in a managed care environment.

BHT started as a journal designed to complement the managed care industry overview presented at the annual Behavioral Healthcare Tomorrow conference, the field's signature event in the 1990s. In recent years, the publication took a broader perspective, offering an analytical look at how today's trends in behavioral health policy and treatment are shaping the future of service delivery. Both BHM and BHT have adjusted their coverage of technology as new software and hardware have fundamentally changed care delivery.

And now, as Behavioral Healthcare, the combined BHM/BHT team is focusing on care provided at the community, outpatient level—the type of care payers and patients are demanding. But behavioral health is an incredibly broad and complex field, and there are surely lessons to be learned from all types of behavioral health organizations. Thus, our refined circulation continues to reflect the diversity of professionals in the field that both BHM and BHT have reached in the past.

More changes surely lie ahead for behavioral healthcare. In fact, as PacifiCare's Edward R. Jones, PhD, suggests on page 23, the term “behavioral healthcare” itself could fall out of style. But no matter what the future holds, you can expect the Behavioral Healthcare team—reflecting the diversity of experience and leadership you've come to rely on from the BHM and BHT staffs—to be with you, adapting and changing beside you as the field evolves.

Douglas J. Edwards, Managing Editor
P.S. What do you think of the new Behavioral Healthcare magazine? E-mail me at dedwards@vendomegrp.com.