As the demand for behavioral health services continues to grow and the availability of mental health care providers shrinks, it’s clear a technology-enabled solution will be an important element in meeting our nation’s needs. Online behavioral health programs lessen individual suffering, support navigation of life’s challenges, and reduce costs associated with poor mental health including lost productivity and worsening chronic conditions. Health plans can help their members meet several important needs by providing access to virtual behavioral health programs.
Member Need 1: General Support for Good Mental Health
Your members are all unique and may have different mental health needs at different times throughout the year. One way to support members in their everyday lives is to make cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) available to everyone.
CBT can boost mental health in general by helping individuals identify and challenge negative or distorted thoughts that lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. By learning to recognize and replace negative thought patterns with positive ones, individuals can improve their mood, self-esteem, and overall mental well-being. CBT also teaches individuals coping skills to deal with stress, manage emotions, and improve problem-solving skills, which increases resilience and improves their ability to handle life’s challenges.
CBT is a highly effective form of therapy that can be used to treat a range of mental health conditions, and it can also be used as a tool for maintaining good mental health and preventing future issues from arising.
Member Need 2: Navigating Short-Term Health Journeys
Many people will face major life stressors that cause mental distress including pregnancy, surgery, or procedure.
According to the World Health Organization, almost 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health condition during pregnancy or in the year after the birth. They may experience a range of emotional and psychological challenges during this time such as anxiety, depression, and stress, which can have a negative impact on their mental health and well-being. CBT can help women identify and challenge negative thoughts related to pregnancy and motherhood. It can also help women develop coping strategies to manage stress, improve sleep, and enhance their social support network, which can be particularly important during the postpartum period when women may experience feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Another example is total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Poor mental health has been linked with adverse outcomes of TKA. After surgery, individuals may experience pain, discomfort, and limited mobility, which can have a negative impact on their quality of life and mental health. CBT can help them cope with these challenges by teaching them strategies to manage pain, reduce anxiety, and improve their overall mental health. CBT also teaches how to set realistic goals, which can improve people’s motivation to stay engaged in their recovery including physical therapy and other rehabilitation programs, thus resulting in better outcomes.
Member Need 3: Dealing with Traumatic Events
Everyone experiences stressful events in their lives. A traumatic incident is a singular event or a series of events that cause a great deal of stress such as natural disasters, hospitalization, the death of a loved one, and assault. They may also have an impact on people who have seen the event either firsthand or on television.
Online mental health care can be an important resource for members dealing with a traumatic event. Trauma can be a deeply distressing experience that may have lasting effects on a person’s mental health and well-being. Access to a confidential, web-based program provides a safe and supportive space for members to explore emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that may be negatively impacting their life. CBT provides important tools to process trauma and develop coping strategies to manage anxiety while also building resilience.
Member Need 4: Caring for Aging or Ill Family Members
More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. Caring for an aging or ill family member can be emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting, and it can lead to increased stress, anxiety, dysfunctional thoughts, and depression.
The psychological distress associated with caring for an aging or ill family member influences emotional and behavioral thinking and reactions. CBT and mindfulness-based exercises can help caregivers recognize thoughts that are inaccurate, maladaptive, and distressing, and respond in a more empathetic and rational way. Likewise, members are more capable of setting boundaries and making self-care a priority.
Member Need 5: Living with a Chronic Condition
CBT can be a helpful intervention for your members who live with one or more chronic conditions, such as pain, diabetes, COPD, or cardiovascular disease. Living with a chronic condition can have a negative impact on mental health. CBT can help members challenge negative thoughts that may hinder their ability to manage their condition effectively, while also giving them tools to become more resilient.
The evidence suggests that mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can develop after cardiac events such as heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. Studies have shown that individuals who have experienced a cardiac event are at an increased risk of developing these mental health problems, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life and overall health outcomes. Depression has also been shown to be associated with a higher risk of future cardiac events. CBT can help people live a fulfilling and meaningful life despite the challenges of a chronic condition.
Help More Members with Technology
As members experience their own personal challenges, giving them tools and strategies to cope and bounce back from disappointments and disruptions can have a meaningful impact on their health and outcomes. Leverage a technology-based solution to scale and deliver mental health services to bridge gaps, lower barriers to care, and reach more members in a sustainable way.
Interested in learning more? Download a new e-book!