Why UHS CMO Dr. Mark Friedlander is optimistic about the future of behavioral healthcare

As the stigma against sharing personal mental health challenges lessens, more steps are being taken to make suicide prevention a national priority, according to Mark Friedlander, MD, chief medical officer of Universal Health Services' behavioral health division. 

Dr. Friedlander joined Becker's to share what developments and trends in behavioral healthcare he is excited about and that are moving the industry forward.

Editor's note: This interview was edited lightly for clarity and brevity.

Question: What behavioral health industry developments/trends are you most excited about at the moment?

Dr. Mark Friedlander: What I am most excited about is the opportunity to spread the word that treatment for mental health needs is available, and Americans can now call or text 988 to reach a trained counselor who can help them cope with a mental health emergency. Each of us has a role to play in suicide prevention, not only during the month of September (National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month) but all year long. It is more important than ever to make suicide prevention a national priority. More than half of Americans are now more open to talking about their own mental health. As providers of behavioral healthcare, we are listening. We seek to promote hope, resiliency, connectedness and recovery.

Research indicates that a sense of belonging and social connectedness improves physical, mental and emotional well-being. In fact, connectedness is a proven protective factor against suicide. As a nation, we must each make it a point to call a family member or friend and make an emotional connection each day. Showing sincere interest in another person’s life can build stronger relationships, and listening to others' issues can help shed new light on our own challenges.  


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