The mental health landscape is constantly changing. More people are accessing services than ever, and their needs are as diverse as they are. It is important for those in the behavioral health industry to understand the emergence of each new mental health trend and how that will impact the services they provide.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders
It is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that, as of 2020, 21% of the adult population was living with a mental health condition. The percentage of people diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder was 5.6%. Unfortunately, not all who need treatment are receiving it. This is evident in the fact that only 46% of those diagnosed with any mental health condition and 64% of those diagnosed with serious mental health disorders accessed services in 2020.
Mental Health Trend #1: Telehealth Is Here to Stay
Telehealth has been around for some time now, but its implementation truly took off with the start of the pandemic. At that time, it was a way of continuing services that could not otherwise occur under public health measures. Many people were suddenly left without the mental health services they needed in a time of extreme vulnerability. Fear and confusion were rampant during the early stages of the pandemic. Fortunately, some providers were able to connect with clients over telehealth to avoid disrupting their progress.
Those early days of mass implementation presented many problems that needed to be worked out. For some people, it was their first time using that type of technology and there was a lot to learn. Providers who utilize telehealth have traditionally been paid less than they are for in-person sessions, and adjustments were made to that policy to promote the widespread service provision only available through telehealth.
Additionally, restrictions on where mental health practitioners could legally practice prevented the continuation of care for people who had to relocate during the pandemic, particularly in the case of college students who were displaced from their schools. Efforts have been made to expand the reach of clinicians through the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact. This initiative has already been adopted in 27 jurisdictions.
Telehealth was necessary during the pandemic, and it seemed like a temporary solution. Over time, however, it has become the norm to receive services through telehealth platforms. Being able to speak with a mental health professional from the comfort of one’s home is invaluable. For this and many other reasons, many still prefer to access services in this manner. During 2020, 33% of psychologists used telehealth, and that number shot up to 50% in 2022.
In addition to these services being in demand, they are also deemed to be an effective substitute for traditional in-person therapy. Ninety-six percent of psychologists have expressed confidence in the effectiveness of telehealth in providing therapy. Furthermore, 97% have indicated their belief that telehealth should continue to be widely used even after the pandemic. It seems telehealth is a mental health trend we will continue to see.
Mental Health Trend #2: Youth Need Our Help
Young people are struggling with their mental health in record numbers. The situation was precarious prior to the pandemic, with one in five children diagnosed with a mental health condition, but since COVID-19 hit, the situation has become even more alarming. A survey conducted by the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, revealed that 71% of parents witnessed negative changes in their child’s mental health as a result of the pandemic.
This detrimental impact has been seen in both younger and older children. Emergency room visits for mental health concerns increased for both children ages five to 11 and children ages 12-17 in 2020, with the former group experiencing a 24% increase and the latter group experiencing a 31% increase in comparison to 2019.
Unfortunately, there are not enough resources to go around. While there is a general shortage of mental health practitioners, this deficit is especially pronounced for child and adolescent psychologists as well as school psychologists. There have been efforts to train teachers and empower them to provide essential interventions to struggling students. While this could provide a short-term fix, using one overworked profession to compensate for another overworked profession is not the most sustainable route. Ignoring this mental health trend could spell disaster for our younger generation.
Mental Health Trend #3: Burnout Is Growing
Fewer and fewer people are satisfied with their jobs. Workplaces across the board are habitually understaffed, requiring more and more work from employees. One sector that has been especially impacted is healthcare, which has been especially burdened during the pandemic.
We spend much of our lives working, and when we are in a toxic and stressful environment, it is hard to compartmentalize that and keep that negativity from spilling into other areas of our life. Approximately three out of five people report their work stress is affecting them negatively. These effects include physical and emotional exhaustion as well as decreased motivation and effort at work.
Much of this can be attributed to burnout, which is stress associated with work that goes unchecked. When someone reaches the stage of burnout, they typically begin to feel distanced from their job and have decreased energy. Another hallmark symptom is a reduction in the efficacy someone brings to their work. Burnout not only makes an individual miserable, but it also degrades the quality of work being completed. This level of stress should not be so commonplace, yet it is becoming “part of the job.” When stress is left to grow, it becomes harder to manage, increasing the risk of developing mental health issues.
New trends are constantly emerging in the mental health sector. Adapting to these changes is essential for organizations to continue to meet the needs of patients and remain a respected name in their community. With the recent influx of new patients seeking care and the demand placed on healthcare workers, workplace stress is difficult to avoid. That’s why Lightning Step used our collective years of industry knowledge to create an All-In-One system that simplifies the process. Our platform seamlessly integrates an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), and Customer Relation Management (CRM) to meet your organization’s data needs and reduce the burden placed on your staff as they provide quality care. To schedule a demo, click here.