Technology can improve access to behavioral health services.

Understanding America’s Behavioral Health Vulnerability

Social determinants have a significant impact on behavioral health risk. We know that to be true. We know it anecdotally because of the types of issues we see in our practices. We also know the highlights reel based on local news and governance. However, we rarely get to see it broken down into a meaningful way that gives us insights into the huge disparities across the United States.

Recently, clinical artificial intelligence company Jvion broke it down into a fascinating resource called the Behavioral Health Vulnerability Map. It visually represents the communities most vulnerable to adverse mental health outcomes while highlighting the specific social factors that increase risk.

Here’s an overview of some of the most interesting elements we saw.

Want to help those in need? Broaden your clinical horizons with Ravel Mental Health.

How the Behavioral Health Vulnerability Map Works

America is experiencing a mental health crisis (we’ve written about this before). To give you a quick summary, more than 20 million Americans receive professional behavioral health support, but there are only about 550,000 professionals working in this industry. There is a lot of pressure.

It’s estimated that about 38% of Americans don’t receive the behavioral health support they need. Anecdotally, we know that number has increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we’re still waiting for the research that will be able to quantify it in a meaningful way. The CDC reports that demand for mental health services increased at least 11% from 2019 until now.

For now, Jvion used census data to analyze the link between social determinants and behavioral health on a national, state, and county level. In addition to the Coronavirus outbreak, factors such as relationships, families, communities, housing, employment, and finances are just a few things that play a big part in determining a person’s level of vulnerability when it comes to behavioral health.

There’s a lot to unpack. The map uses predictive analytics to identify which of the vulnerabilities mentions is most likely to lead to significant developments from depression and anxiety all the way up to a behavioral health-related hospitalization or development of an addiction. Interestingly, it can also recommend evidence-based interventions that are most likely to make a difference.

Mapping Behavioral Health Factors in a Sample Neighborhood

Ravel Mental Health was developed in the Chula Vista area in San Diego, California. The ZIP code is 91911. Once entered into the map, it generates a clickable and color-coded breakdown of key neighborhoods according to risk, breaking them down by Census ID and population.

For example, in Census ID 060730130001, which has a population of 400 people right in the heart of Chula Vista, risk is high. This area has a high density of industrial/commercial jobs. The percentage of households without access to a vehicle is above the median and there is high unemployment, low labor market engagement, and the area is considered to be impoverished.

Contrast that to Census ID 060730127001, which has a population of 1200 and is just a couple of blocks away. It’s considered to be “very low” risk. It has the same low labor market engagement and job density, as well as a high percentage of uninsured individuals. However, there is high access to employment, which make a high difference when it comes to risk of behavioral health.

Other Innovations Changing Behavioral Health

Jvion’s map is cool, but it’s not the only technological platform being used to revolutionize the behavioral health industry. Since you’re here, we’d love to tell you about Ravel Mental Health. It’s about to change online bookings for therapists forever, making it simpler and easier for behavioral health professionals running their own practices to connect with clients than ever before.

How does it work? It’s a web-based platform that enables therapists from all over the United States to create detailed profiles with a set of very comprehensive filters and online booking functionality. We know that by the time prospective clients begin the search for behavioral health services, they’re typically nearing a crisis point, so we want to streamline the process as much as possible.

This way, they can quickly punch in parameters such as their location, the type of issue they’re struggling with, their insurance, and the type of person they’d like to see about it. Ravel Mental Health will come back instantly with a list of results. From there, the prospective client can quickly scan through the profiles, check each person’s availability, and make an appointment on the spot. It will significantly speed up the process of matching with someone who can help.

We all know that therapy is deeply personal, so the search terms are very inclusive. This ensures both clients and providers can find people with whom they align. That could mean professional specialties, such as addiction, or personal characteristics, such as gender or religion.

Protecting Behavioral Health Providers From Burnout

It’s actually a game changer for the people on both sides of this interaction. Not only does it promote access to behavioral health services; it alleviates the administrative burden on providers.

Back in 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services has predicted a behavioral health skills shortage by 2025. Obviously, there’s no way the decision-makers could have predicted a global pandemic. However, it’s safe to say COVID-19 has turned up the heat on an already stretched profession. How many times have you emerged from back-to-back sessions only to sit at your desk and start sifting through a huge pile of emails and voice messages from prospective clients?

Worse, how many people have you had to turn away simply because you have no capacity?

Ravel Mental Health is designed to address this pain point. You can control your availability by allocating as many or as few time slots as you wish. Once they’re filled, all you need to do is send your standard onboarding paperwork – easy is that. It significantly reduces the amount of admin-related stress you’ll deal with on a daily basis while saving as much time as possible.

This is important. If you’re fully booked, you need to be fully present. Your clients trust you with their stories, hopes, dreams, and secrets. You can’t be sitting in sessions thinking about the blinking light on your phone and worrying about when you’re going to find the time to return all the phone calls hanging over your head. It’s a simple tool that will go a long way toward reducing burnout.

Signing Up To Ravel Mental Health

Ravel Mental Health is currently in development and is set to roll out across the country later this year. A lot of people are looking for mental health support right now and our goal is to maximize the time that therapists can be in session helping people. If you agree that more can be done to improve the delivery of behavioral health services across America, we’d love to hear from you.

We’re inviting forward-thinking therapists to be among the first to create a profile when our site launches. It’s an opportunity to be a leader in the industry and prepare for a future in which more people than ever are reaching out to behavioral health professionals for advice. Together, we can begin to tackle the disparities that exist across America and help the people who need us most.

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