Unmet behavioral health needs are pushing the health care system to a breaking point. Most mental health and substance use needs are worse than ever—especially for patients who are high-acuity, low-income, and/or people of color. Health care leaders well understand the crisis at hand, and many have been heads down trying to stem the tide.
But to make meaningful progress, industry stakeholders—provider organizations, health plans, life sciences companies, employer organizations, digital health organizations, and policymakers—must collectively shift from short-term, surface level approaches to tactics designed to improve the functioning of the U.S. behavioral health care system on a structural level. This will require health care organizations to collectively address the five primary challenges of the U.S. behavioral health care system: stigmatization, insufficient workforce supply, lack of affordable treatment, limited clinical evidence base, and adverse social determinants of health.