Mental Health

HBCH LEADING THE MENTAL HEALTH PATH FORWARD  IN HOUSTON

Mental Health was identified in 2019 as the number one chronic condition of concern by Houston employers in the HBCH annual employer benchmarking survey.  The Houston Business Coalition on Health (HBCH) in partnership with the Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health (DFWBGH), was selected in 2019 to lead efforts in Texas to improve mental health and substance use care.   Houston and Dallas constitute one of the eight Regional Employer Stakeholder Engagement Teams (RESET).  This is part of a transformative initiative called The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use led by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) Center for Workplace Mental Health and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

A 2019 Milliman report  found the current state of mental health and substance use treatment in America is dire and only getting worse. Results showed that patients were much more likely to resort to “out-of-network” providers for behavioral health treatment than for other conditions.

The Path Forward  has embarked on a five-year plan to execute a disciplined, private sector approach to improve mental health and substance use care for Americans across the nation.

“Through this program we aim to create a systemic tipping point with the potential of helping anyone who needs mental health or addiction care get it, wherever and whenever they need it,” said Andy Keller, PhD, President and CEO of the Texas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “A country where every person with depression is cared for in the same way that they receive care for their heart disease or diabetes is within our grasp but can only be achieved through this type of unprecedented, transformational cooperation.”

Five Priority Strategies Five Priority Strategies that constitute our nation’s best opportunity to positively transform behavioral healthcare at a population level will be implemented to move forward in improving access to effective detection and treatment. These best practices, derived from eValue8, a National Alliance tool that defines, measures and evaluates health plan performance, include:

  1. Improve network access for behavioral health specialists
  2. Expand use of collaborative care to integrate behavioral health into primary care
  3. Implement measurement-based care to improve quality and outcomes
  4. Expand tele-behavioral health
  5. Ensure mental health parity compliance

“There is a critical need in the US to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and by raising the awareness of mental health issues with employers and connecting employees to treatment we will see an increase in employee productivity, lower absenteeism and presenteeism, and decreases in overall healthcare cost,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, MPA. “The APA and the APA Foundation have been developing resources for employers to ensure their employees have access to high quality, evidence-based mental healthcare.”

Henry Harbin, MD, former CEO of Magellan and adviser to the National Alliance, commented, “This collaborative of key employers and employer coalitions, allied with leading mental health and substance use experts, is totally unprecedented in US history. It has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for all people with these conditions.”