Across the nation, communities are experiencing drastic spikes in a variety of behavioral health issues, including anxiety and depression, as people continue to navigate the complexities and stressors brought on by the pandemic.
These spikes are extensions of an ongoing crisis in behavioral health globally, and are not expected to decrease once COVID-19 subsides.1
More than 190 million Americans, or 58% of the population, have at least one medical comorbidity, while more than 30 million have three or more. Further, it is expected that people living with multiple comorbidities will more than double by 2050.2 These statistics highlight the growing need for behavioral health program integration into a hospital’s continuum of care, as many of the patients currently being treated are left undiagnosed.
Read this guide to learn about the issues leading to an influx of behavioral health patients and the three key areas hospitals are addressing to efficiently and effectively meet the growing population.
The Current Strain on Health Systems
One in five U.S. adults, or 47.6 million people, experience mental illness each year.3 As of 2017, at least 300 million people across the world were struggling with depression, 284 million with anxiety and more than 178 million with alcohol or drug addiction.1 As these numbers rise year over year, hospitals and health systems continue to be the safety net for behavioral healthcare – especially when community-based services are inadequately resourced.
To efficiently address these issues, health systems are increasing access to this vital treatment through community partnerships, integration of physical and behavioral healthcare in primary care settings, and reexamining the role of emergency departments (EDs) in an effort to alleviate current strains on staff and facility operations as well as reduce care costs.
In order to meet the growing needs of the behavioral health population, health systems must first address:
Research surrounding behavioral health is still emerging, so it can become difficult for hospitals to locate proper education and training for staff members that will help them effectively treat behavioral health disorders. This issue can hinder a hospital’s ability to recommend the most beneficial form of treatment, as they are often unclear about the actions needed to address behavioral health.
Compounding this problem is a workforce without enough psychiatrists, counselors and other clinical staff to fully meet the increasing demand for these services. Employing highly-trained and educated behavioral health experts, in addition to a dedicated behavioral health department, will help address the growing patient population.
Once workforce development concerns are addressed, it opens the door to a more accessible form of care.
Enhanced Patient Access to Behavioral Health Services
In addition to the lack of behavioral health workforce available to serve this growing population, the lack of accessibility to these programs and services continues to take a toll on communities across the country.
In these shortage areas, the ED is utilized as a patient’s primary form of behavioral healthcare, forcing many patients to wait for hours or even days to access an appropriate inpatient psychiatric bed. Research has found that approximately one in eight ED visits involve behavioral health conditions - increasing more than 44% between 2006 and 2017, with suicidal thoughts growing 415%.4,5
This has led many providers to examine the specific qualities that could enable their facilities to make these instrumental improvements to their overall performance and outcomes.
There is one factor that continues to produce successful results for both a hospital and the community it serves: partnership.
Optimize Your Behavioral Health Services Through Partnership
In the past, healthcare consumers typically interacted with the health system only when they were sick or injured; however, a recent Deloitte article has predicted that more health spend will be devoted to sustaining well-being and preventing illness by 2040, while less will be tied to assessing conditions and treating illness.6
Optimizing a hospital to provide this more comprehensive form of care can present a multitude of challenges if not properly addressed and handled by an industry expert and trusted partner.
Benefits of Partnership with Kindred Behavioral Health
While the need is great, running a successful behavioral health program is complex and requires specialized expertise that differs from the rest of a hospital’s core competencies. Having a partner with focused behavioral health expertise can benefit hospitals by alleviating the burden of implementing and optimizing a successful behavioral health program.
Visit KindredBehavioralHealth.com to discover how Kindred Behavioral Health can help prepare your hospital for the growing patient population and how partnership with a behavioral health expert can offer superior long-term benefits.
1. Judah, R., Allen, S., Rabinowitz, D., Karlinskaya, O., & Piltch, M. (2020). The future of behavioral health: Innovating across sectors to address the global crisis [PDF]. Deloitte Insights.
2. Mental health conditions. (2021). Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions
3. Mental health by the numbers. (2021). Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/mhstats#:~:text=20.6%25%20of%20U.S.%20adults%20experienced,2019%20(13.1%20million%20people).
4. A. (2019, May). Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care Advances Value for Patients, Providers and Communities. Retrieved March, 2021, from https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2019/05/aha-trendwatch-behavioral-health-2019.pdf
5. Novotney, A. (2018, June). Guarding mental health in the emergency room. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/06/mental-health-emergency#:~:text=In%20addition%2C%20a%202017%20report,growing%20by%20nearly%20415%20percent.
6. Forces of change. (2019, March). Retrieved March 10, 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/health-care/forces-of-change-health-care.html
Kindred Behavioral Health partners with health systems across the country to expand access to behavioral health services and produce excellent outcomes.