Our mental health is discussed more openly than ever before, and that momentum has created the opportunity for continuous improvements across many attributes of behavioral health care.
Where do we stand now as an industry?
From employers to payers to providers, here’s how behavioral health care is meeting the need and what else can be done.
Influenced by celebrities, athletes and the like, talking about mental health and “self-care” is more popular today. That conversation helps to reduce stigma, create supportive workplaces and encourage individuals to seek services.
Demand for mental health resources is growing. Last year for the first time ever, mental health books outsold diet and exercise books. (1)
As momentum builds around forming mentally healthy and supportive workplaces, employers and insurance companies are in a powerful position to help reduce the toll that mental health challenges have on the workplace.
A significant increase in search traffic for behavioral health services shows awareness is growing (2)
Increased mainstream awareness has reduced the stigma around mental health, lowering one of the major barriers to effective treatment. However, we still have a way to go for there to be acceptance, not mere acknowledgment.
1 in 4 Americans reported choosing between getting mental health treatment and paying for daily necessities. (3)
Heightened mental health awareness has led to an increase in consumers seeking help. As a response to this demand, there are more behavioral health services and apps claiming to effectively diagnose and manage mental health symptoms than ever before.
While behavioral health care is now more widely offered, providers are concentrated in metro areas or often only accept private pay. The rise of apps and virtual behavioral health care opens access, but therapies are not always delivered consistently or effectively.
Technology-based mental health treatment methods are increasingly available but currently underutilized by employers. Employers should push for health care plans with well-researched, well-proven models of service delivery that improve outcomes for mental health.
A lack of education and understanding persist around how to find the right care solution and the importance of using a solution that is backed by legitimate scientific research.
Quality of Care
64% mental health apps claim efficacy, yet only 14% have an evidence-based design. (4)
There is a concerning lack of measurement and evidence-based care in mental health, as well as industry-wide quality standards. With such a high level of expenditure on employee health care, the current system leaves much room for improvement when it comes to treatment and outcomes for mental health conditions.
Evidence-based care can significantly improve patient clinical outcomes, yet too many behavioral health care providers do not consistently adhere to evidence-based guidelines. While mental health apps and tech-enabled solutions hold promise, the claim of efficacy needs to be back by real evidence of clinical outcomes.
The underutilization of measurement-based care in mental and behavioral health care is an impediment to treatment decisions that could ultimately lead to better patient outcomes for a huge portion of the population.
Investing in employees’ mental health has shown a significant return on investment for employers, including cost savings linked to fewer absences and higher levels of productivity. Yet many insurers and employers are still struggling to realize the economic value of meeting the need.
The ecosystem should be refined to ensure every point in the system—from the patient, to the therapist, to the insurer to the employer—is succeeding and seeing the results.
Measuring the Value of Better Health
48% fewer hospital days (5)
52% reduction in absenteeism (6)
A collaborative care model combined with a measurement-based approach that leverages new technology could significantly improve outcomes for employees while cutting health care costs for employers. There must also be more widespread discussion on impact and sharing results.
Increased cross-industry collaboration and market consolidation is helping to connect consumers, employers and payers to quality behavioral health care models.
Leveraging innovative technologies with the power of evidence-based care providers can lead to proven outcomes and measured value, all while inspiring hope for the millions with mental health needs.
Mental health startup funding skyrocketed from $192.3 million in 2014 to $602.2 million in 2018 (8)
While development and adoption of innovative behavioral health technology has accelerated in recent years, there needs to be increased integration of behavioral health into the larger health care ecosystem to emphasize the need for both mental and physical care.
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Schaub, Michael. “Mental Health Books Outsell Diet and Exercise Books at Barnes & Noble.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2019, http://www.latimes.com/books/la-et-jc-mental-heath-book-sales-20190111-story.html.
Google Trends. (2019). Available at: https://www.google.com/trends/
“New Study Reveals Lack of Access as Root Cause for Mental Health Crisis in America.” The National Council for Behavioral Health, 10 Oct. 2018, http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/press-releases/new-study-reveals-lack-of-access-as-root-cause-for-mental-health-crisis-in-america/.
Larsen, Mark Erik, et al. “Using Science to Sell Apps: Evaluation of Mental Health App Store Quality Claims.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 22 Mar. 2019, http://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-019-0093-1#Tab3.
Pande RL, et al. Leveraging Remote Behavioral Health Interventions to Improve Medical Outcomes and Reduce Costs. Am J Manag Care. 2015;21: e141-e151. https://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n2/leveraging-remote-behavioral-health-interventions-to-improve-medical-outcomes-and-reduce-costs/.
“Addressing the High Costs of Unmet Behavioral Health Issues Case Study: AbleTo and a National Retail Employer.” AbleTo, 2019, www.ableto.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Case_Study_AbleTo_and_National_Retailer_2019-1.pdf.
“StartUp Health’s 2018 Insights Funding Report: A Record Year for Digital Health.” StartUp Health, 1 Apr. 2019, www.hq.startuphealth.com/posts/startup-healths-2018-insights-funding-report-a-record-year-for-digital-health.