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Welcome to the Behavioral Health Data Sharing Toolkit!

Sharing Behavioral Health Data: Not Simple, but Possible

More than a decade after the Institute of Medicine issued a clarion call for better care coordination and information sharing among physical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment providers, the changes urged in the report have yet to be fully realized. Health care providers report difficulties sharing critical health information about patients, citing a number of challenges.

This toolkit is intended to support practice within the federal and state legal frameworks for sharing behavioral health information in California.

The work here builds from the California Healthcare Foundation report prepared by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP: Fine Print: Rules for Exchanging Behavioral Health Information in California.

Yes you can share behavioral health data!

The integration of behavioral health and physical health is quickly becoming the new gold standard of care for patients and the aspiration of many providers and in many different care settings.  Nonetheless, it is still a challenge for health care providers to know when it’s legal to share information.   Confusion remains over the various laws, statutes and regulations governing the sharing of confidential information, particularly when it concerns sensitive behavioral health information.  In some cases, this can lead to a reluctance to share important clinical treatment information, even when it is legal.   We have put together this toolkit to help support your work to deliver the best care for clients and patients. While it is certainly not intuitive, it is in fact possible to share data related to behavioral health issues in California. We hope that the information here is useful in your work.


To help guide you in sharing data, we have pulled together the legal and practical information you need. The information included here includes direct text where helpful and builds from the California Healthcare Foundation report prepared by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP: Fine Print: Rules for Exchanging Behavioral Health Information in California.

Feel free to jump right to the data sharing templates if you’d like. Or dig deeper into the State and Federal legalities. If you’re trying to build the case for data sharing, you might want to look at the case studies for inspiration (and support!). You might also want to pause and review the data systems section to see about electronic health record (EHR) and clinical information system (CIS) recommendations.

We have attempted to populate this toolkit with the most current and up-to-date information.  However, given the nature of this topic, movement and changes in practice are developing all the time. We’ve included links to other resources and groups working in this area that we hope will be useful in keeping you current on those changes and movements in the field, whether specific to CA or national, that might influence your work in the data sharing space.

Wherever you begin, we hope you find this information useful for your work! You may navigate through the toolkit using the menu above and at the bottom of each page, or jump right in through one of the buttons below.


California is engaged in a number of initiatives and pilots that have integration of physical and behavioral health care as a focus of that work.


Developing the technology for appropriate data systems that support and facilitate the transfer of patient information across providers and systems is a central feature of an integrated approach to care.


The legal framework for sharing behavioral health data depends on State and Federal laws and regulations.


Templates and examples of forms that have been developed by others working in integrated care as well as from practices that are working cross system at coordinating care of patients


In the initiatives described here, mental health treatment data are made available to physical health providers, although each initiative is using a different methodology for data sharing and patient consent.


List of resources, projects and organizations that we believe are doing important work that intersects and helps contextualize the issues surrounding the sharing of data.

What's Needed to Share Data: An Overview

Explore the Behavioral Health Data Sharing Toolkit!