Navigation And Care Coordination Services

What are navigation and care coordination services?

Navigation and care coordination services can help providers deliver more integrated care to clients with serious mental illness (SMI) and chronic or complex medical conditions. Such services include linking clients (and their natural supports) with essential health and community services. This approach is a “barrier-focused intervention” that aims to assist clients in identifying and overcoming barriers to care.

One way in which navigation services differ from traditional care coordination services is that navigators often interact with clients face-to-face and monitor receipt of services. The combination of services coordinated by the navigator is fundamentally driven by a client’s needs.

Why are navigation and care coordination services important?

Individuals with SMI have high rates of medical comorbidities and significantly shorter lifespans than those without SMI.[1] Most of this disparity is related to higher rates of chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiorespiratory illnesses.[2]

There is a need for a coordinated approach for individuals with SMI that recognizes the interconnectedness of mental and physical health.[3] At the core of navigation is the focus on building strong relationships across the individual, community, and entire care team. Models of integrated care that leverage one or more navigators offer the promise of improving the health and overall wellbeing of individuals with SMI and assisting behavioral health organizations in their efforts to respond to new payment and care delivery models.

Understanding Navigation And Care Coordination Services

Explore these resources to better understand the concepts behind navigation and care coordination services.

Tool: Navigation Services in Behavioral Health – Organizational Assessment

Webinar: Assessing Organizational Ability to Provide Navigation Services 

Concept Guide: Approaches to Navigation Services for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness 

Concept Guide: Approaches to Workforce Development to Support Care Management 

How To Implement

Use this resource to understand the leading practices and techniques for implementing navigation and care coordination services.

Webinar: Providing Navigation Services to Clients with Serious Mental Illness and Chronic Physical Health Conditions 

Reference these resources to understand how navigation and care coordination services are applied in practice. The tip sheets below assist navigation staff in supporting clients with serious mental illness (SMI) in their management of smoking, diabetes, hypertension, asthma/COPD, congestive heart failure, and HIV/AIDS.

*Tip Sheet: Smoking and Serious Mental Illness

*Tip Sheet: Type 2 Diabetes and Serious Mental Illness

*Tip Sheet: Hypertension and Serious Mental Illness

*Tip Sheet: Asthma/COPD and Serious Mental Illness

*Tip Sheet: Congestive Heart Failure and Serious Mental Illness

*Tip Sheet: HIV/AIDS and Serious Mental Illness

Webinar: Care Transition Toolkit for Persons with Mental Health & Co-Occurring Conditions: What It Is and Who Can Use It 

Spotlight On The Wisconsin STAR Method: Care Wisconsin’s Approach To Person-Centered Assessment And Care Management For Dually Eligible Beneficiaries 

*Tool: Care Transition Toolkit for Persons with Mental Health & Co-Occurring Conditions 

*Resource is available in English and Spanish.

[1] Colton, C.W. & Manderscheid, R.W. (2006). Congruencies in increased mortality rates, years of potential life lost, and causes of death among public mental health clients in eight states. Prev Chronic Dis [serial online] Retrieved from:
[2] Collins, C., Hewson, D. L., Munger, R., & Wade, T. (2010). Evolving models of behavioral health integration in primary care. Milbank Memorial fund. Retrieved from
[3] Strine, T. W., Mokdad, A. H., Balluz, L. S., Gonzalez, O., Crider, R., Berry, J. T., & Kroenke, K. (2008). Depression and anxiety in the United States: Findings from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Psychiatric Services, 59(12), 1383-1390. doi:10.1176/