This National Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re recognizing the critical importance of addressing mental and behavioral health for the whole health needs of patients everywhere.
Mental health challenges are widespread in the United States; studies have shown that one in five U.S. adults experiences any mental illness each year. In addition, one in 20 adults experiences a serious mental illness — defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”
Clinically diagnosable mental disorders aren’t the only thing that Americans face, either; in an environment where just over 11% of adults deal with regular feelings of worry, nervousness, or anxiety, and close to 5% of adults regularly struggle with feelings of depression, behavioral health concerns have become our country’s baseline.
This puts a deep onus on the healthcare system to address these concerns and provide behavioral health support — but how? And who needs the support?
Behavioral health impacts everyone
Mental health challenges impact all age groups, genders, races, and ethnicities. In one 2020 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the prevalence of any mental illness among females (nearly 26%) was higher than among males (nearly 16%) — but both groups struggled.
Similarly, race and health inequities played a role in increased presentation of any mental illness — with adults who reported two or more races experiencing mental illness at the highest prevalence (nearly 36%), followed by white adults (just over 22.5%) — but no one was immune.
Similarly, age is not a factor in predicting whether someone will face mental health challenges. In addition to the prevalence of mental health challenges among adults, one in six U.S. youth between the ages of 6 and 17 years old also experience a mental health disorder each year.
Pervasive challenges in nationwide treatment
Acknowledging the ubiquity of mental health challenges is one thing; ensuring consistent, holistic, available treatment of these conditions is something else entirely.
In the United States, the average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years. In 2020, nearly 53 million adults in the United States experienced any mental illness, but less than half — just over 46% of those people — received mental health services.
One 2022 study in JAMA Network Open found that even a majority of patients who screened positive for depression did not get timely follow-up care. With recent healthcare staffing shortages and mental health impacts for clinical staff brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense that hospitals and health systems may be struggling to scale care — but mental health needs are too critical to whole health outcomes to be allowed to follow through the cracks.
Here at Get Well, we’re working to prevent this. With the adolescent-to-young-adult population, for example, we’re tackling their needs head-on via a collaboration with Sutter Health™.
The Scout by Sutter Health™ program — recognized as one of Fast Company’s 2021 World-Changing Ideas — addresses the unique needs of youth ages 12 to 26 years old who experience anxiety or depression, providing them with a non-clinical, educational virtual program that combines human and digital components and focuses on strengthening resilience and supporting ongoing self-management.
Self-management of behavioral health leads to empowerment
Why self-management? Enabling patients to self-manage their behavioral health needs offers a sense of empowerment and control.
With this in mind, Get Well has recently partnered with Health Journeys, a leading publisher of evidence-based, medically endorsed guided imagery and meditation programs. The company provides a simple and scalable solution for mental health, wellness, and behavioral change.
The meditation programs offered by Health Journeys offer gentle, powerful, and proactive techniques for behavioral health challenges, including:
- Post-traumatic stress
Through this partnership with Health Journeys, Get Well can further support high-quality, whole-person care, giving people from all walks of life a role in their own care.
The programs offered through Get Well by Health Journeys provide behavioral health support to disparate patient groups across our entire client base, including:
- Veterans: Veterans often deal with health conditions such as diabetes, pain (post-op and in rehab) and post-traumatic symptoms, all of which can be aided by relaxation exercises
- Pediatrics: For pediatric populations, meditative bedtime stories and powerful wellness tools can help regulate moods and reduce stress levels
- Adult patients: This cohort can find audio support in preparing for medical procedures, access stress and general wellness meditations to improve resilience and positive interactions, and use meditation audios for pain relief
Find out more about how guided imagery and meditation programs can aid in behavioral health support across demographics.
The bottom line
Behavioral health challenges are a fact of today’s world, impacting people from every walk of life. When someone makes the effort to reach out for support in these matters, it’s critically important that the healthcare system be there to provide the necessary aid.
By offering a non-clinical digital safety net that provides personalized support, community resources, or simply a way to self-manage with proactive relaxation and resilience techniques, healthcare organizations can ensure ongoing behavioral health support for everyone they serve.
Please note:The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) via their National Helpline. For resources, please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).