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4 Largest Barriers to Treating Mental Health and Solutions to Address Them

1 in 5 U.S. adults live with mental illness which means that likely you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition. We’ve come great lengths in destigmatizing mental health in the past several years and the pandemic brought forward the need for access to mental health services. Still, over half of U.S. adults with a mental illness don’t receive routine treatment. 

Untreated mental illness accounts for $113 billion in annual health expenses. Identifying barriers to treatment and helping fill gaps in care for those living with mental illness will not only lower costs but allow us to provide resources, support and guidance. 

We’ve identified the 4 largest barriers and practical strategies to begin addressing each: 

1. Availability 

Challenge: The shortage of mental health practitioners in the U.S. is staggering, with some patients waiting between 3 months and 1 year before receiving treatment. Longer wait timesput patients at a higher risk for having a mental health crisis and increaselikelihoodthe patient will be a no-show. 

Solution: The availability and development of digital mental health programs and services has helped solve this challenge. The app market for mental health tech is predicted to reach $149.3 billion by 2028. Teletherapy apps such as Better Help and Talkspace offer therapy and mental health resources on-demand. Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace have gained popularity rapidly, with combined 165 million downloads in 2020 alone. What consumers expect from their favorite apps and brands, they’ll begin to expect from their health plans and systems.

Having user-friendly digital tools and resources that are on-demand and easy to navigate will drive access and utilization. Communicating and building relationships with your population through conversations allows you to understand their needs while also creating awareness. mPulse uses experiential and existing data to deliver these programs, resources and education to each member while meeting them where they are.  

2. Inequity 

Challenge: Minority populations, the elderly and people with disabilities are at a higher risk of developing a mental health condition, and also experience greater barriers to care. Accessibility to services despite limitations is crucial. 

Solution: Ensuring the services and programs you offer are easy to navigate, multilingual, and are indicative of the populations you want to reach allows your members to feel seen, heard and accounted for. At mPulse, we factor in several elements on each member’s profile including language, religion, gender, background and more. We send tailored dialogue and resources that support their preferences and allow them to access care that reflects each of their preferences. Learn more about how we tailor programs for each individual. 

3. Cost 

Challenge: The leading causes of stress among U.S. adults is financial insecurity. Poverty and economic strain create a number of elevated health risks, particularly disparities in mental health. 

Solution: Offering financial support services, financial education and low-cost programs can help give patients and members the support they need. Offering low-cost digital programs and creating awareness of these resources will also increase accessibility. mPulse can help identify cost barriers and send financial support programs or low-cost resources to members in need of these services.  

4. Education 

Challenge: Knowledge gaps are the biggest contributor to misunderstanding mental health. Roughly 90% of people living with a mental illness say that stigma and discrimination have had a negative affect on their lives. 

Solution: Mental health is vital part of overall health and educating your population will encourage members to seek help. Education helps destigmatize mental health, provides condition-specific knowledge and can support gaps in care, medication management and more. The Big Know is mPulse Mobile’s streaming health education capability. We leverage popular health experts to teach high-value topics that range from holistic wellbeing to condition-specific content. The commercial-quality education uses our trademarked learning model and behavioral data science to inspire health literacy at scale. To sample some of our mental health streaming content, click here. 

Interested in learning more about how our solutions and capabilities can help solve engagement and barrier challenges for your organization? Contact us to learn more. 

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