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Mental Health Utilization Grew 100% Since Start of Pandemic

Analysis  |  By Jay Asser  
   December 12, 2022

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is expanding its mental health provider network to keep up with the rise in demand.

The use of in-person and virtual visits for mental health have doubled since 2019, according to new data by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA).

The payer's numbers are reflective of a nationwide trend that sees a greater demand for mental health treatment since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to that demand, BCBSMA announced it will further expand its mental health provider network, which includes partnering with national mental health provider groups to have more clinicians available and a greater variety of services.

BCBSMA highlighted that its mental health provider network has expanded by 46% over the past five years and now features almost 18,000 clinicians.

"As the need for mental health services continues to grow, access to convenient and affordable care is critical," Andrew Dreyfus, Blue Cross president and CEO, said in a statement. "By expanding and diversifying our mental health network, we're ensuring that our members are able to find and receive the high-quality care they need, when they need it."

One of the partnerships is with Talkiatry, a telehealth psychiatric therapy provider, which joins the four other in-person and virtual mental health providers BCBSMA partnered with earlier this year.

The health insurer also said it is adding two specialty mental health providers: And Still We Rise, which offers culturally affirming practices, and DynamiCare, focused on substance abuse.

"It's not enough to simply expand our network with more clinicians," Greg Harris, a psychiatrist and senior medical director for mental health at Blue Cross, stated.

"We want to ensure we have the right clinicians to treat members' specific needs – and that includes specialized treatment and approaches. When it comes to mental health treatment, one size does not fit all. We're committed to building a network of practitioners to serve a diverse array of needs for children, adolescents and adults."

Jay Asser is the contributing editor for strategy at HealthLeaders. 


The health insurer's data highlights an increase in treatment for depression and anxiety, as well as a greater desire for mental health services.

To expand its mental health provider network, the company announced it will add partnerships with a telehealth therapy provider and two speciality providers.

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