Through a study with the CHLA, Limbix plans to collect information on SparkRx, which provides an adjuvant therapeutic intervention for depression patients ages 13 to 22. The self-directed intervention is based on cognitive behavioral therapy. For its part, Limbix focuses on providing effective and accessible mental health services to younger patients.
Young people drive mental health spending to surge
The CHLA study is the latest of several efforts to assess the value and limitations between the rapidly growing number of applications and telehealth offerings designed to meet the needs of patients accessing mental health services, particularly young adults.
This last sector — patients under 25 — represents a slow but steady rise in spending on mental health and substance abuse, according to another EBRI Report. EBRI’s seven-year survey of employer-sponsored health plans found:
- Spending on mental health and substance abuse problems increased from 6.8% of total health costs in 2013 to 8.2% in 2020.
- While they represent 36% of the population, people under the age of 25 account for 42% of spending on mental health and substance abuse treatment in 2020.
- People under the age of 18 are emerging as the largest consumers of mental health.
Virtual platforms aim to bridge the care gap
The use of virtual platforms – from telehealth to applications – to treat behavioral health and substance use disorders can present some challenges in the delivery process. For example, research has shown that telehealth can improve access to care and outcomes, reduce health disparities and stigma, and alleviate workforce shortages.
Indeed, Headspace Health’s recent acquisition of Shine, an app committed to serving marginalized communities, will help Headspace advance its diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts. For these and other reasons, there has been a significant growth in the development and release of virtual platforms.
Clinically appropriate, evidence-based virtual treatment options offer hope for improving access to care for all ages. This couldn’t be more important to young Americans who need these services. The American Heart Association is advocating for children through Sound the alarm for children Partnership initiative to raise awareness of the current national emergency in mental health for youth.
For example, there are now 8000 to 9,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists treating children and adolescents in the United States i.e. 10 child psychiatrists for every 100,000 children. It is estimated, however, that we need 47 psychiatrists for every 100,000 children and adolescents. The results of a study published in late 2019 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that despite the overall growth in the number of child psychiatrists between 2007 and 2016, “there is still a dearth” of such practitioners, particularly in lower-income areas.
3 steps to choosing mental health apps
We welcome the expansion of virtual platforms for mental and behavioral healthcare, but with this rapid growth comes the challenge of identifying evidence-based platforms or programs. Hospital and health system leaders must determine which ones are clinically appropriate for specific patients and patients.
Here are ways provider organizations can help shape the development and use of mental health apps and platforms.
1 | Proceed with caution.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) urges healthcare leaders to exercise caution when using the apps. Association Application advisor It provides resources to help clinicians and their patients make informed decisions about applications and provides guidance on the ways in which applications can be dangerous or cause harm.
2 | Make your voice heard.
The APA has an Application Evaluation Form that provides a systematic method for determining whether a mental health application should be used in clinical practice. Users provide input through app ratings. The point is not to rate or rate the apps but to provide examples of how different raters have tried the product.
3 | Supporting employees on their journey.
in 2020, Kaiser Permanente launches a resource To assist other provider organizations as they select applications for their corporate wellness programs. The resource offers tips on how to narrow your searches, weigh the pros and cons of self-guided versus coaching apps and more.