Beyond the Apps: Tackling the Mental Health Crisis with Integrated Team-based Care

Mental health integration is essential to remedying the growing mental health

crisis in the U.S.

As of 2020, 52.9 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 5 adults, experienced

mental illness.. Unfortunately, in our current paradigm, one that views mental

and physical health separately, there’s a shortage of services that address

mental health issues as part of a comprehensive care plan, and that holds us

back from making sustainable progress.

We’ve swung the pendulum on stigma and people are raising their hand for

care, but now what? Employers are still grappling with a sea of apps and the

best path for integrating care delivery. While society has embraced broader

acceptance of digitally-enabled care models, are they really going to “solve”

the mental health crisis? Particularly when they work in isolation?

The answer is clear: fragmented, siloed care actually restricts the visibility of

caring providers and further contributes to the stigma associated with mental

health challenges.


The American Medical Association published a report earlier this year

highlighting the severity of the mental health crisis and the vital need to reach

people who require timely access to treatment. Based on its findings, the

organization asserts that behavioral health integration (BHI) produces

superior patient outcomes, improves patient experience and access, and can

generate cost savings.

Further, the AMA and other leading medical associations established the BHI

Collaborative, a group that seeks to empower physicians to expand access to

mental health services through primary care settings and take a holistic,

integrated approach that focuses on the well-being of the whole person.

The AMA has brought to light a very serious issue of which many employers

and benefit designers are already aware: the current paradigm – which silos

physical and mental health care – is not working. Companies are using

employee assistance programs (EAPs) as a mental health front door, which is

simply not good enough to address the severity of these problems. Patients

require care that incorporates visibility, collaboration, and integration among

providers. So why do employers continue to settle for less? It’s about to


Patient-centered primary health is a straightforward path for patients to see

their primary care clinicians and mental health providers in a truly integrated

fashion. More and more, employers are embracing an integrated model that

engages patients and facilitates adoption by providers throughout the entire

patient journey.. Employers should both imagine and demand a world where

success is being reported as improvement scores vs. visit volume.


My experience-based assessment of the U.S. approach to mental health care

does not stand alone; the numbers tell a troubling story about failings of

mental health delivery and the impact of mental health disorders.. A lack of

treatment for mental health conditions costs the U.S. more than $100 billion

annually. Yes, this is a major problem, one that disrupts lives, livelihoods,

relationships, and our basic human desire to find joy.

From a whole-patient view, individuals with mental health conditions have a

higher likelihood of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Those

experiencing both physical and mental health conditions also incur higher

health care costs and experience worse overall health outcomes. The whole

patient and how we treat them really does matter.An integrated Primary

Health team—in line with BHI strategies—enables partnered care toward

holistic health, and the data shows it.

When comparing the clinical outcomes of more than 3,000 Crossover patients

to patients in the community, study results showed Crossover to be

significantly more effective than the community in improving overall mental

health outcomes.

It’s clear that mental wellness cannot merely be managed by isolated

transactions or singular care episodes. Instead, personalized care of each

patient, backed by established doctor/patient relationships, has the power to

improve overall quality of life. Isn’t this the result every patient deserves?

About the Author

Michael Boroff, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and the Mental Health

Program Manager for Crossover Health. He oversees the mental health

program across the country and works within Crossover’s integrated,

team-based care model, to establish trusted relationships with his patients

and their extended care teams to achieve optimal outcomes for his patients.

About Crossover Health

With two state-of-the art Care Centers in Seattle and Bellevue, Crossover is

bringing a new approach to employee healthcare, and an ongoing

commitment to whole-person health. Crossover Health is a leader in delivering

value-based hybrid care. The company’s national medical group delivers – at

scale – Primary Health, a proven care model driven by an interdisciplinary

team inclusive of primary care, physical medicine, mental health, health

coaching and care navigation. With a focus on wellbeing and prevention that

extends beyond traditional sick care, Crossover builds trusted relationships

with its members and flexibly surrounds them with care— in-person, online,

and anytime— based on the member preference. Combining a sophisticated

approach to data analytics that incorporates social determinants of health,

Crossover delivers concrete results and measurable value for employers,

payers, and most importantly, members. Together we are building health as it

should be and engaging a community of members to live their best health. To

learn more, visit crossoverhealth.com or follow us on social media


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