Mental health integration is essential to remedying the growing mental health
crisis in the U.S.
As of 2020, 52.9 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 5 adults, experienced
mental illness.. Unfortunately, in our current paradigm, one that views mental
and physical health separately, there’s a shortage of services that address
mental health issues as part of a comprehensive care plan, and that holds us
back from making sustainable progress.
We’ve swung the pendulum on stigma and people are raising their hand for
care, but now what? Employers are still grappling with a sea of apps and the
best path for integrating care delivery. While society has embraced broader
acceptance of digitally-enabled care models, are they really going to “solve”
the mental health crisis? Particularly when they work in isolation?
The answer is clear: fragmented, siloed care actually restricts the visibility of
caring providers and further contributes to the stigma associated with mental
The American Medical Association published a report earlier this year
highlighting the severity of the mental health crisis and the vital need to reach
people who require timely access to treatment. Based on its findings, the
organization asserts that behavioral health integration (BHI) produces
superior patient outcomes, improves patient experience and access, and can
generate cost savings.
Further, the AMA and other leading medical associations established the BHI
Collaborative, a group that seeks to empower physicians to expand access to
mental health services through primary care settings and take a holistic,
integrated approach that focuses on the well-being of the whole person.
The AMA has brought to light a very serious issue of which many employers
and benefit designers are already aware: the current paradigm – which silos
physical and mental health care – is not working. Companies are using
employee assistance programs (EAPs) as a mental health front door, which is
simply not good enough to address the severity of these problems. Patients
require care that incorporates visibility, collaboration, and integration among
providers. So why do employers continue to settle for less? It’s about to
Patient-centered primary health is a straightforward path for patients to see
their primary care clinicians and mental health providers in a truly integrated
fashion. More and more, employers are embracing an integrated model that
engages patients and facilitates adoption by providers throughout the entire
patient journey.. Employers should both imagine and demand a world where
success is being reported as improvement scores vs. visit volume.
My experience-based assessment of the U.S. approach to mental health care
does not stand alone; the numbers tell a troubling story about failings of
mental health delivery and the impact of mental health disorders.. A lack of
treatment for mental health conditions costs the U.S. more than $100 billion
annually. Yes, this is a major problem, one that disrupts lives, livelihoods,
relationships, and our basic human desire to find joy.
From a whole-patient view, individuals with mental health conditions have a
higher likelihood of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Those
experiencing both physical and mental health conditions also incur higher
patient and how we treat them really does matter.An integrated Primary
Health team—in line with BHI strategies—enables partnered care toward
holistic health, and the data shows it.
When comparing the clinical outcomes of more than 3,000 Crossover patients
to patients in the community, study results showed Crossover to be
significantly more effective than the community in improving overall mental
It’s clear that mental wellness cannot merely be managed by isolated
transactions or singular care episodes. Instead, personalized care of each
patient, backed by established doctor/patient relationships, has the power to
improve overall quality of life. Isn’t this the result every patient deserves?
About the Author
Michael Boroff, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and the Mental Health
Program Manager for Crossover Health. He oversees the mental health
program across the country and works within Crossover’s integrated,
team-based care model, to establish trusted relationships with his patients
and their extended care teams to achieve optimal outcomes for his patients.
About Crossover Health
With two state-of-the art Care Centers in Seattle and Bellevue, Crossover is
bringing a new approach to employee healthcare, and an ongoing
commitment to whole-person health. Crossover Health is a leader in delivering
value-based hybrid care. The company’s national medical group delivers – at
scale – Primary Health, a proven care model driven by an interdisciplinary
team inclusive of primary care, physical medicine, mental health, health
coaching and care navigation. With a focus on wellbeing and prevention that
extends beyond traditional sick care, Crossover builds trusted relationships
with its members and flexibly surrounds them with care— in-person, online,
and anytime— based on the member preference. Combining a sophisticated
approach to data analytics that incorporates social determinants of health,
Crossover delivers concrete results and measurable value for employers,
payers, and most importantly, members. Together we are building health as it
should be and engaging a community of members to live their best health. To
learn more, visit crossoverhealth.com or follow us on social media