We all know that behavioral health is an incredibly important topic. That’s especially true for HR and benefits leaders. I’m here with Dr. Sanjay Basu, our Director of Research and Analytics, who writes The Breakdown, to share his thoughts on some of the most important issues facing us today. We know that every employer is talking about behavioral health, but nearly half haven’t implemented any programs to address behavioral health needs. Why is that? I think there’s a lot of contradictory evidence in this space and a lot of options. People are being overwhelmed with the number of apps, program partners, and elective offerings that they can offer. And there’s a lot of gloss and a lot of rhetoric. so that makes it difficult for people to actually choose good programs. And so you mentioned, you took a look at the evidence recently in this space. Based on your research, what did you find? What did you learn about the strategies that employers can deploy? We looked and found that there were three common themes in terms of what’s actually affective. The first one is to really strongly integrate the behavioral health plan options into primary care systems. There’s a strategy called the collaborative care model in which a counselor or psychiatrist is able to interface directly within the primary care physician’s office. We found that was much more effective than alternative traditional approaches where you just go to an independent psychiatrist’s office. Often the latter is not available, cash only, won’t accept insurance, or is just inaccessible in terms of wait times. The second was that in the space in which there’s partner programs or apps, we found the strongest evidence for long-term benefits outcomes from cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. There’s a lot of new apps trying newer-age things without a lot of evidence. Whereas the CBT based apps, though they’re more traditional, seem to have a lot more evidence supporting good outcomes. The third point is a little bit more taboo and that’s the fact that although a lot of these programs will address depression or anxiety or insomnia, we’re finding they under addressed a lot of substance use and a lot of suicide risk. Those aren’t usually wrapped into the behavioral health program, and they really need to be. These aren’t always the easiest topics for all of us to talk about, but they’re incredibly important. So thank you Sanjay for sharring your thoughts on this and thank you all for listening. We hope you’ll learn more about what works and what doesn’t in behavioral health by visiting collectivehealth.com/insights.

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