Behavioral health's most pressing issues: 4 industry leaders weigh in

Employers, celebrities and healthcare giants alike are working to tackle the enduring mental health crisis in the U.S. 

Four mental healthcare experts joined Becker's to discuss what aspect of behavioral health should be at the forefront of the industry. 

Camille Evans. Behavioral Health Consultant and Social Services Manager, Valor Health (Emmett, Idaho): Accessibility is the number one thing that I believe needs to be focused on. The mental health system has been built as a one-size-fits-all approach and that does not work. We need to have providers and payers that support people that need one to three visits and as needed. Insurance requirements and the models of care for mental health do not support this. People tend to wait until the problems are so big to seek help that it is creating a large problem. 


Scott Gilman. Director of the San Mateo (Calif.) Department of Behavioral Health: The workforce shortage is unprecedented, making our ability to respond to the behavioral health surge caused by the pandemic difficult.


Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD. Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine Department of OB-GYN at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center: There are three most-pressing issues in my opinion. First, expanding mental health insurance coverage without prohibitively costly co-pays. Second, identifying mental health conditions in primary care and providing access to services early to address patient needs and avoid having these psychiatric conditions surfacing in EDs, or at a crisis point and causing unnecessary pain and costs. Third, diagnosing early and providing multiple modalities to patients' for access to mental health services, i.e. "access healthcare your way."


Don Mordecai, MD. National Leader for Mental Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente: In the U.S., because of a shortage of qualified clinicians and stigma, less than half of people with a mental health condition, and less than 10 percent of people struggling with substance use disorders get any treatment at all. As a society, we need to rethink how to get evidence-based treatments that work for all people who need them.

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