Rob Cohen, president of Appriss Health, wrote an article for Forbes.com, “Leveraging Technology To Support Post-Pandemic Behavioral Health Costs And Challenges”
The Covid-19 pandemic eventually will end, but its negative impact on Americans will linger. More than a year of economic shutdowns, restrictions and layoffs have wrought devastation to financial, social, physical and emotional health across the country as millions of people faced losing their jobs, savings, homes and even their lives.
Add to that economic stress many months of isolation and disruption of routines as schools and offices remained closed, and the results — sharp spikes in substance use and demand for mental health services — were entirely predictable. More than half (52%) of community behavioral health organizations surveyed by the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH)increased demand for services through August 2020, while 50% of organizations offering substance use disorder (SUD) services saw demand increase last summer.
This inability of community-based mental health and SUD services to meet demand has forced many Americans to seek care in medical emergency departments (EDs). The problem is that most EDs are not designed to provide suitable services for patients with behavioral health issues.
What ends up happening is these individuals in need of mental health care wait in EDs for hours and even days after an evaluation has been completed and a decision made to admit or transfer them to another facility. This process, referred to as “boarding,” is endemic in the U.S. health care system. A 2019by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) cites data showing that 79% of ED directors reported their facilities board psychiatric patients, with 55% reporting boarders at least multiple days per week and even daily.