Industry trends behavioral health leaders are buzzing about

From wearable health monitoring tools to emerging treatment methods, five behavioral health leaders joined Becker's to discuss the behavioral healthcare trends and developments they are most excited about.

Editor's note: Responses were edited lightly for clarity and brevity.


Jill Dickson, RN, Senior Director, Behavioral Health and Cancer Services, Dignity Health Northridge (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center: I would say the most interesting developments are telehealth psychiatry and value-based programs for mental healthcare.


Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, Chief of Behavioral Medicine, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Professor of Reproductive Biology, Psychiatry, Urology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine: There are several exciting developments in behavioral health. First is the increased reach and ease of access to behavioral healthcare. Virtual psychotherapy sessions have been proven to be as effective as in-person sessions. Second are primary care provider linkages and the increased recognition of the behavioral specialist’s role in value-based healthcare performance. Third, wearable digital technologies and self-management tools are increasingly being developed and incorporated to help patients and to monitor patients between sessions (whether sessions are virtual or in-person). Fourth, the growing awareness and validation of both women’s sexual health and mature women’s health as key to health and quality of life and the influx of venture capital into femtech industries that support the behavioral health treatments for sexual concerns and menopause related symptoms. My hospital system is an example of a system that has incorporated all of the above developments.


Ahsan Mahmood, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Parkview Health (Fort Wayne, Ind.): My excitement for the future is mixing behavioral healthcare into primary care, just like we mix sugar into coffee. Collaborative models of care bring behavioral healthcare into primary care services. It's also exciting to see new therapies for treatment-resistant depression emerge and become more available to the public. The addition of mental health resilience education to early-childhood school programs is exciting and much needed.


Don Mordecai, MD, National Leader for Mental Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Calif.): The pandemic has highlighted opportunities to move toward a new model of behavioral healthcare that includes combining new technologies with proven approaches — virtual care alongside in-person care; digital apps that allow us to reach more people and treat them in new ways. For instance, Kaiser Permanente offers digital apps such as Calm, myStrength, and now Ginger at no cost to our members — which complement and do not replace our traditional clinical support. How to weave these digital capabilities together into a system that allows for "whole person" care — for both mental health and substance use conditions — is a challenge and opportunity I am most excited about.

Jeremy Williams, RN, Director of Psychiatric Services, Providence St. Patrick Hospital (Missoula, Mont.): I am excited about all the collaborative work and momentum around improving the crisis systems of care within our communities. Crisis care services are a much-needed area of focus and development to improve the overall health and well-being of our communities.

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