Chart showing the increase in behavioral health demand post-pandemic

Working with the research team at Trilliant Health, Sanjula Jain, Ph.D. and colleagues gained more insight into what has changed in behavioral health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Behavioral Health has seen significant changes over the past few years in every area of health care. In a recent webinar with Behavioral Health Tech’s Solome Tibebu and Trilliant Health’s Sanjula Jain, the current state of behavioral health has shown to not only change within the healthcare system but has affected the US health economy as well. 

Sanjula Jain, Ph.D., is the SVP Market Strategy and Chief Research Officer at Trilliant Health. She has an extensive background in health economics and overall research within the healthcare world. Working with the research team at Trilliant Health, Jain and her colleagues developed a behavioral health trends report aiming to gain more insight into what has changed in behavioral health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the pandemic has seen such drastic changes in patients utilizing digital behavioral healthcare, seeing how it has affected the health economy in the United States is crucial, as that ultimately affects us as patients. 

Background on the Trilliant Health Study

The study examined over 300 million Americans from all areas of the country, ages, ethnicities, etc. It also considered the following aspects of their healthcare as well, including what healthcare service people were using, what prescriptions they were taking, who are the patients receiving healthcare services, who was providing the healthcare services, how is utilization changing, and where are the patients receiving healthcare services. The study also broke down the behavioral health trends into various diseases and disorders such as eating disorders, ADHD, alcohol and substance abuse disorders, etc. Considering all these aspects aided in receiving the most accurate data and analyzing the effects of behavioral health trends on the health economy. 

Key Insights and Conclusions on Trends Shaping the Health Economy

Within the study's executive summary, Jain and her colleagues came up with eight key insights into their work, which helped to determine what the pandemic changed and what stayed relatively the same. They concluded:

  1. While behavioral health patient volumes have increased, care utilization patterns have remained relatively constant, as has the persistence of gaps in care
  2. Behavioral health demand is not changing at the same rate across U.S. geographies, both as a function of prevalence and available supply of providers. 
  3. The proportion of American adults taking medication to manage behavioral health conditions is increasing. 
  4. The most common setting of care where patients receive behavioral health care shifted as a function of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Behavioral health demand will continue to outpace provider supply, and the gap is likely to widen.
  6. The existence of direct-to-consumer providers in the behavioral health sector will likely not after supply at scale but has changed the typical ways in which patients receive care. 
  7. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the behavioral health crisis, but the extent to which is temporary vs. sustained is not yet clear. 
  8. Untreated behavioral health conditions will exacerbate comorbidities, both in terms of acuity and cost of care. 

A few other vital notes found within the study that brought up great discussion points in the webinar included the fact that mental health-related prescribing is increasing among all patients nationally, which raises the discussion of whether that is a positive or negative thing specifically for the younger population. Jain and her colleagues also found that Adderall prescribing for adults ages 22-44 is outpacing ADHD diagnoses, which raised the point about outpacing prescriptions for other diagnoses as well. 

Overall, Trilliant Health’s study has shown just a few ways COVID-19 has affected the behavioral health world, and Sanjula Jain’s webinar truly shows Trilliant's dedication to researching America’s health economy. One of the main discussion points within the webinar included the fact that all this data has shown how barriers and stigma have affected the behavioral healthcare community greatly, and the accessibility to providers has prevented numerous people from getting help. “Behavioral health accounts for 20% of GDP,” Jain notes within the webinar, which is just another way of showing how crucial behavioral health care is post-pandemic, and why removing these barriers and stigmas within the community is so important. 

Interested in Learning More About the State of Behavioral Health in 2023? 

Watch the full webinar here.

Click here to read Jain and her colleagues’ study in full, or click here to learn more about Trilliant Health.