Using a Digital Doorway for Behavioral Health Support in 2023

Although the Covid-19 pandemic had detrimental effects on most aspects of life, it resulted in one crucial positive outcome: amplified awareness of mental health and its influence on overall well-being. While the stigma of seeking treatment has lessened, the increased attention on psychological well-being triggered new issues such as labor shortages and rising rates of anxiety and depression.

In fact, U.S. adults experienced four times as much anxiety and depression between April 2020 and August 2021 than in 2019. In an effort to mitigate the gravity of the current mental health crisis, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was launched to provide all callers to the counseling they need. Employers became more aware of their role in providing support and assistance to their employees, especially given the recent influx of mental health startups as a result of the pandemic. Now more than ever, companies need to focus available benefits to address the surge in rates of anxiety and other behavioral health issues.

As the unpredictability of mental health services persists, here are three trends to watch for in 2023:

Digital expansion

For the past two years, the behavioral health industry has evolved tremendously to adapt to current consumer demands. Companies shifted all counseling to online sessions, providing more convenient care and improving care coordination. Virtual appointments are now easier for people to schedule and attend, remote monitoring improves chronic condition management for numerous conditions, telemedicine drastically decreases costs, and a familiar environment is proven to have a positive effect on patient outcomes.

Organizations also expanded the breadth of their services, branching out into less conventional territories. Increased accessibility allows organizations to address other issues such as population health and health equity. Moving forward, care models will continue to deviate from traditional models to include more digital options and provide a more consumer-friendly experience for behavioral health care.

DEI and personalization

The prevalence of telehealth solutions allowed organizations to examine and refine mental health care platforms to optimize user experience, including augmented personalization for patients. Individuals now have instant access to therapy and resources catered specifically to them, minimizing time spent waiting for treatment.

Digital personalization also facilitates workplace diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) initiatives by providing people with individualized care plans instead of templated strategies that do not account for specific needs. Companies have implemented diversity programs, but many have yet to see meaningful results or systemic change. In 2023, there will be a more deliberate focus on equity and inclusion and amplified attention to culturally sensitive care.

Employers continue to step up 

In October, the U.S. Surgeon General published the New Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace. This exhaustive examination and list of regulations highlight necessary employer initiatives to mitigate stress and the health-related consequences caused by workplaces. Leadership teams should review these suggestions and take action to ensure their employees have the mental health resources they deserve.

Moreover, the current trend of employee benefit expansion will carry on. More organizations will develop employee assistance programs (EAPs) that encompass an integrated suite of offerings instead of the historically accepted few. Companies will begin to add more mental health-related services to their existing programs. These extensions should include adding health screenings, health coaching, teletherapy, and other digital tools that comprise a “digital doorway.”

Augmented resources for education

In 2022, there were 50 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths. Educators and students must have accessible mental health resources at all times. This would likely increase the probability of faculty members detecting possible dangerous situations ahead of time and guiding students towards counseling services to prevent such tragedies. Digital mental health tools are proven to make an impact on educators’ psychological wellbeing.

Behavioral health will continue to take center stage in 2023. It is critical that industry stakeholders collaborate to identify critical mental health needs and leverage available technology to produce meaningful change.

Photo credit: Olga Strelnikova, Getty Images