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How Mental Healthcare Access Can Improve to Meet Patient Needs

14 Feb 2023 5:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

Meeting patient needs for mental healthcare access will require industry leaders, clinicians, and healthcare policymakers to focus on giving clinicians the tools needed to meet patients in any care setting, as well as enable more ample access to mental healthcare providers, according to a new paper from the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA). [Patient EngagementHIT]

More patients than ever are seeking mental healthcare, with AfPA citing figures that 53 million Americans now live with some kind of mental illness. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this prevalence of mental illness has pushed the mental health space to face unheard-of patient demand.

But patients don’t always look for mental health treatment in a traditional mental health setting, the report authors noted. While some still seek care from a mental health professional, many others find the most accessible pathway is through their primary care provider. Some find themselves in a mental health emergency and accessing the emergency department.

“In some cases, these spaces and their providers don’t have access to the tools needed to provide mental health patients with the services to effectively treat their conditions,” the report authors noted. “It is imperative that policymakers, insurers and clinicians collaborate and adapt to provide accessible, affordable services by meeting mental health patients where they are.”


Four in 10 mental health visits happen in a primary care setting, the AfPA report noted, potentially because of the longitudinal relationships patients have with their primary care provider. Primary care providers have had the opportunity to build a strong baseline of trust with patients, and that trust may make it easier for patients to disclose mental healthcare needs.



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