It’s become clear and increasingly quantifiable that recent history has only increased the severity of America’s mental health crisis.
A recent US Census Bureau survey found 42 percent of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December 2020 — a 31 percent increase over their previous results captured between January and June of 2019. A January 2021 Harris Poll reveals a continuation of this significant trend: 84 percent of Americans reported stress-based emotions in the two weeks leading up to the survey, with the most common emotions including anxiety, sadness, and anger.
The data suggests organizations are starting to catch up to the challenges their members face. 83 percent of employers are now offering mental health coverage, making it the third most in-demand benefit after paid vacation and 401(k) plans. Misty Guinn, director of customer advocacy at Benefitfocus, tells Employee Benefit News the response is a positive trend. “In the past, it was really a transactional relationship with benefits. Now, organizations are embracing that one size doesn't fit all,” she says.
What is behavioral health?
Unlike mental health therapies, behavioral health is focused on addressing patterns of behaviorto help patients overcome issues impacting their mental health and overall wellness, including:
Substance use disorders
Adjustment disorder may be the least-known of the conditions above, but that’s also changing. Given the rapid-fire nature of difficult developments over the past year, it’s understandable (and more evident) that members and their families often face a permeating sense of disorientation which can have a negative impact on a member's motivation, efficiency, and morale.
Thankfully, there’s real help available — and it’s proven to lower overall healthcare spending.
Behavioral Health Providers (BHPs) embedded in primary care
It can be challenging for patients to play a proactive role in their own health goals if their mental health makes healthy behavior changes more difficult to maintain. Our BHPs are available at every Vera Care center so members have a convenient and approachable lifeline. BHPs work with primary care providers and clinically integrated health coaches to promote an environment where members’ holistic improvements are not only possible — they’re achievable.
With mental health and physical health so often intertwined, members encounter a safe, intuitive, and integrated care experience. And like most primary care services in our advanced primary care model, members can schedule in-person or virtual appointments with a BHP to help minimize the barriers associated with busy lives and social stigmas.
Multifaceted care for multifaceted people
Whether a member is suffering from the effects of the pandemic, the trauma of a past life event, or undiagnosed mental illness that may have evaded their own awareness for years or even decades, behavioral health should be considered a necessary component of every organization’s care plan.
By situating our BHPs in the primary care setting, members benefit from a more robust support system, and organizations can rest assured knowing their healthcare spending is driving health outcomes with real-world relief while lowering overall costs. As the statistics reveal, the time is now for organizations to meet their members where they really are vs. an ideal of where organizations may hope they’d be.
Learn more about supporting your members and reducing overall healthcare spending by visiting our new advanced primary care resource.