Leadership Dialogue


Chair File: Leadership Dialogue — Addressing the Behavioral Health Crisis with Jesse Tamplen of John Muir Health

On this episode, John Haupert, 2023 AHA Board Chair, talks with Jesse Tamplen, vice president of behavioral health services at John Muir Health, located east of San Francisco, and a member of the AHA Committee on Behavioral Health. Haupert and Tamplen discuss behavioral health challenges in the U.S. and how hospitals and health systems are actively developing and advocating for solutions to help patients, families and health care professionals.

Tamplen emphasizes the increased need for more acute care behavioral health beds for children, adolescents and adults. For example, in California, there are fewer than 100 acute psychiatric beds for children under age 12, and John Muir Health has 10 — or 10% — of those beds, Tamplen notes. He stresses the importance of ensuring that “when kids need to access that critical, lifesaving care, they can remain in their community.”

Hospital and health systems are playing an increasingly more important role in providing behavioral health care, whether in their own facilities or by helping patients connect with community resources. “This is an exciting area,” Tamplen observes. “After the pandemic, some of the stigma and discrimination of mental health decreased … and [it] allowed more innovation to come forward.” John Muir Health partnered with local and state organizations to create a behavioral health navigator program so people receive appropriate care and treatment as well as preventive services.

Haupert and Tamplen also discuss how hospitals are better integrating behavioral health care services with physical health services — and the need for adequate reimbursement to cover the cost of care. The “challenge of low reimbursement puts a huge impact on our ability to recruit [behavioral health care workers],” Tamplen explains.