The global COVID-19 pandemic, its economic fallout, and the companion global confrontation with issues of social justice have together caused enormous strain on the mental and behavioral health of people across the globe. Everywhere, there have been spikes in anxiety, depression, and other behavioral health issues as people navigate the complexity of the current moment. These spikes are extensions of a long-simmering crisis in global behavioral health. But change is coming. We have shared our overarching perspective on the Future of Health already, and the future of behavioral health is a critically important aspect of that overarching vision.
The future of behavioral health
Today’s global challenges have made clear the need for players across the behavioral health landscape—including but not limited to both private and public insurers, care providers, employers, and government policymakers—to innovate to better serve the behavioral health needs of people across the world. Doing so could not only address a pressing social challenge but also improve health care outcomes; reduce health care costs; and create a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.
Disruption from cultural change, scientific and technological advancement, increased care access, data sharing, interoperable data, and empowered consumers is creating opportunities across sectors to forge a new future in behavioral health. Illustrative opportunities include:
- Insurers leveraging the incredible array of data at their fingertips to forge new relationships with members, allowing for preventive interventions to address behavioral health needs
- Care providers incorporating an array of new technologies into their practice to provide personalized care to their patients
- Employers offering differentiated behavioral health support to their employees that improves performance and retention
- Government policymakers facilitating deeper partnership across industry players by helping to create shared ethical and regulatory frameworks focused on innovative behavioral health technology
Today’s players in the behavioral health ecosystem can seize on these trends and opportunities to address many of today’s behavioral health challenges and radically transform people’s lives. Doing so will improve health and wellness, create business value, and build stronger, more resilient societies across the world.
The world is facing a long-simmering crisis with mental and behavioral health. Consider these statistics:
- As of 2017, at least 300 million people were struggling with depression, 284 million with anxiety, and more than 178 million with alcohol or drug addiction.1 Even though fewer people suffer from the most severe behavioral health problems such as schizophrenia, these illnesses can have devastating impacts on individuals and their families.
- Estimates suggest that at least 1 in 4 people experience significant behavioral illness at some point in life,2 and an estimated 20% of the working age population in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are affected by mild to moderate disorders at any given moment.3
- The consequences can be devastating, especially when behavioral health struggles lead directly to overdose, suicide, or premature death—as tragically is the case for 1.15 million people annually across the world.4
These challenges create a significant socioeconomic burden on societies everywhere. One study estimated a US$210.5 billion cost to the global economy each year from major depression alone.5 The direct and indirect costs of behavioral illness are estimated to total up to 4% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP),6 exceeding the burden of cancer, diabetes, and respiratory disease combined.7 Another study projected a US$16 trillion negative impact on the global economy from 2020–2030 if the world does not adequately respond to behavioral health problems.8
More concerning still, these studies all predated the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic fallout, and the social unrest related to systemic inequity that emerged in 2020—all of which exacerbated the behavioral health crisis. One recent study in the United States, for example, found that the share of people reporting negative behavioral health impacts from COVID-19 rose from 32% to 53% between March and July 2020.9
There is an enormous need for organizations and governments across the world to address these issues. For insurers, acute behavioral health issues are among the greatest drivers of need for medical care and associated costs. Care providers not only have the intrinsic drive to address issues for their patients but also the business imperative to treat their patients and find ways to address their needs. For employers across the world, behavioral health issues limit employees’ ability to work at their highest level and, in extreme cases, drive absenteeism. And for government policymakers, ensuring that their citizens can thrive is at the core of the work they do every day.
Download the PDF to explore opportunities and disruptors that can accelerate positive change for the future of behavioral health amidst 2020’s enormous challenges.
Innovation starts with insight and seeing challenges in a new way. Amid unprecedented uncertainty and change across the health care industry, stakeholders are looking for new ways to transform the journey of care. Our US Health Care practice helps clients transform uncertainty into possibility and rapid change into lasting progress. Comprehensive audit, advisory, consulting, and tax capabilities can deliver value at every step, from insight to strategy to action. Our people know how to anticipate, collaborate, innovate, and create opportunity from even the unforeseen obstacle.
Learn more at www.deloitte.com/future.