Needs for Behavioral Modification

Across our nation, millions of Americans are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse disorders, this combined with an ever changing healthcare industry and a shortage of qualified mental health providers to address these issues, is creating roadblocks to true mental health. One answer to these mental health issues lies in the utilization of behavioral health, as a means of providing a broader range of mental health care solutions, while at the same time completely removing the perceived stigma that is often attached to mental health.   

  • An estimated one in four adults (about 60 million Americans) experiences mental illness in a given year.

  • About 14 million people live with a serious mental illness.

  • Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year.

  • 7 percent of American adults live with major depression.

  • An estimated 18 percent of American adults live with anxiety disorders (e.g., panic disorder, OCD, PTSD).

  • About 9 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders

  • 20 million Americans suffer from substance abuse.

In addition to the high numbers described above, there is a critical mental health provider shortage creating significant access to care issues. Here is a snapshot:

  • Only 40 percent of Americans with mental illness report receiving treatment.

  • One mental health provider exists for every 790 individuals.

  • Approximately 4,000 Mental Health HPSA (professional shortage areas) exist which is based on a psychiatrist to population ratio of 1:30,000 -- meaning it would take approximately 3,000 additional psychiatrists to eliminate the current mental health HPSA designations.

  • A report to Congress found that 55 percent of the nation's 3,100 counties have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers.

You get the idea. And even with mental health parity laws, cost of care remains an issue -- not to mention the social stigma and mistrust of mental health providers that exists in many communities.

Behavioral health is bridging the gap. Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of behavioral health services. For example, a recent study showed that providing behavioral health services to patients living in rural and underserved areas significantly reduced psychiatric hospitalization rates. Another study concluded that the effects of behavioral health on low-income homebound order adults were sustained significantly longer than those of in-person mental health services. Many other studies arrive at the same conclusion. Note, however, obstacles remain, including how to properly assess non-verbal cues by video, technical difficulties, and the lack of proper training of many providers regarding behavioral.