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Changing the Behavioral Health Landscape Through Awareness and Partnerships

Cambia Stop the Stigma Event

Photo: Cambia’s Stop the Stigma event in Portland, Oregon

Update: Read more about Echo Health Ventures’ 2019 investments in behavioral health

One in five adults in the United States—over 47 million people—have a behavioral health condition. In 2013, mental health conditions were deemed the most costly health conditions in the U.S., with spending across mental health and substance abuse at $201B. Recent research is also showing strong ties between mental and physical health conditions. People with depression have a 40 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population, and people with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.

Despite the prevalence, only 43.3 percent of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018. The average delay between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is over a decade. Many forego behavioral health services because of high out-of-pocket costs and challenges navigating the health care system.

Echo Health Ventures believes there are many opportunities to improve how individuals can access and afford mental health services, including:

  • Optimizing access to networks of traditional and non-traditional behavioral health services that are focused on improving outcomes for individuals
  • Implementing new technologies that help measure and track behavioral health data
  • Better integrating behavioral health with physical health in clinical settings
  • Supporting campaigns, education and initiatives that work to change the stigma associated with mental and behavioral health issues

To draw attention to some of these issues and opportunities, there has been noteworthy engagement across the country throughout this past month for Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day.

Durham-based Blue Cross NC has recently announced its partnership with Eleanor Health, the first addiction and mental health services provider designed to deliver long-term patient recovery outcomes and modeled on value-based delivery and payments. Additionally, they have partnered with likeminded health care technology companies to better integrate physical and mental care and to “ensure every person with a mental health condition gets the care they need.”

Portland-based Cambia Health Solutions hosted an evening devoted to addressing the stigma of mental health and its treatment, which included a free screening of the documentary “Chad’s Legacy: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness” and a panel discussion with community leaders. Cambia also recently began offering mental health “first aid training” to its employees, offering tools for identifying, understanding and responding to signs of mental illness.

The Echo team has spent considerable time gaining a deep understanding of this sector, and we’re excited to see the innovation that is beginning to take hold in the market. Thanks to everyone in the health care industry who has kept this important topic top-of-mind, both in October and throughout the year. Stay tuned in coming months for additional updates from Echo in the behavioral health space.

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