An average of one in five adults are regularly diagnosed with a behavioral health condition. Surprisingly, only half of those diagnosed are in active treatment. On average, the duration between the onset of symptoms, to the point of seeking care is almost 11 years. This may be due to several complex reasons. Primary among these is the inaccessibility of care across the country. Most patients are hindered due to a lack of knowledge of mental health diagnoses and treatment options. The healthcare sector needs to adopt a keen focus on simplifying this journey and offering increased awareness and accessibility. This blog will explore how digital mental health can meet the increasing demand for behavioral care.

Understanding Mental Health Stigmas and Structural Gaps

The cultural context of mental health, and all the stigmas that come attached with it, has been a significant hurdle towards patient seeking care and choosing to struggle in silence. For the most part, mental health is not viewed as a mainstream form of healthcare, and therefore comes lower on the priority list for care, when compared with other chronic conditions. Healthcare organizations, in some cases, have not placed a significant emphasis on ensuring that patients have the knowledge and access requisite to care. Deprioritizing mental health has resulted in several patients staying bereft of care opportunities. Another critical hurdle is that payers have budgeted mental healthcare separately and this disrupts the continuum of care.

Integrating Behavioral Health with Overall Care

Based on the above-mentioned statistics, if a patient is delaying care treatments for up to 11 years, there is a high likelihood that the mental health condition has worsened. Delayed care engagement can also result in patient dissatisfaction and overall frustration toward the process. Efficient care delivery needs to be prioritized and assessed, based on the specific needs of the community. Healthcare organizations need to innovate ways to manage the mental health needs of the population.

Untreated mental illness is a cluster of unmet needs across the entire healthcare continuum. Isolating and treating mental health and an early diagnosis can create a dramatic impact on overall healthcare. Historically, there is a tendency to manage it outside of the traditional system. Recent studies have been published that display the connection and the importance of getting people into behavioral healthcare and the value that brings across their total health status. The traditional system of treating emotional health and wellness separately from physical health and wellness does not seem to be working.

When mental illnesses are left untreated, it culminate into unmet needs across the whole spectrum of the healthcare continuum. When mental health treatments are isolated and identified, this can significantly impact overall healthcare. Historically, mental healthcare is managed as a separate entity that works outside of the traditional system. This separatist treatment is clearly not working. Many recent studies have proved the disadvantages of this flawed system. Integrating mental healthcare into the overall health treatments can provide a big advantage.

We’re all total human beings. The patients who engage in behavioral healthcare and have three or more visits with a therapist or psychiatrist, not only get better from a mental health perspective, but their overall healthcare costs also go down through lower emergency room visits, less medical admissions, etc. Healthcare organizations need to fundamentally believe in the interconnection between physical health and mental health, not only from a clinical standpoint, but a financial standpoint, and start to think about timely holistic care. Mental health management holds significant weightage on effectively managing heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and the full gamut of clinical outcomes and their costs.

Creating Care Continuum

Healthcare organizations need to measure their progress along the mental health spectrum. To know that the patient got an appointment and kept the appointment, that they engaged and built a therapeutic alliance with their provider, that they are getting better along the way, that the symptoms and outcomes are being measured. Efficient coordination between the payer, provider, therapist and patient, which ultimately translates across the health care system is the game changer.

Historically, there were a lot of silos of claims management. Healthcare organizations are now creating and accessing more data and the research displays costs are higher. People do worse from a holistic health perspective if they are not getting their emotional wellness and behavioral health needs met. As an industry, it is time to make sure that outcomes are measured more consistently through data collection and access.

Ensuring Safety of Digital Tools

Digital mental health tools require testing to ensure that all healthcare entities understand the information being presented, along with stringent approvals and regulations. Qualitative and quantitative testing on multiple and varied populations is a core component to building meaningful and lasting products in healthcare. An inherent respect and account for the way care is delivered, paid for, and regulated, while introducing consumerism into the infrastructure of digitization can go a long way.

The critical component is to adopt a patient-first mentality, wherein the patient is the priority. To create a product that can fit into patients’ lives, make them want it and want to engage with it. Behavior change is the hardest and most lasting problem in healthcare. The recent pandemic has forced organizations to adopt innovative ways toward behavioral healthcare delivery. This led to the development of digital care and virtual care which makes it more convenient for individuals. The privacy of using digital tools for mental health is another advantage that is leading to increased innovation. In the end, organizations should aim for a robust platform, an efficient provider network, and a fair amount of technology and data to reliably deliver quality care at scale.


A rise in mental health software for doctors has efficiently demolished the barriers of treatment for mental health problems. Whether geographic limitations or financial hurdles, digitizing mental health can address these challenges. Through intelligent mental health applications, patients can receive treatment anonymously and with complete confidentiality. Value-driven behavioral health services offer access to a variety of professional practitioners with secure 24/7 hotline support for critical cases. Explore more interesting topics and listen to insightful podcasts related to healthcare only on CareTalk.

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