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Forbes: In Looking To Treat The Whole Patient, VA Tests Behavioral Health Platform

Posted 10/30/2018

by: Nicole Fisher

Approximately 1/5th of adults in the U.S. (43.8 million people) experience mental illness of some form in any given year. A significant number of those are related to depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress. We also know that individuals living with mental illness face increased risk of having chronic medical conditions and die earlier than peers - largely due to treatable medical conditions. In fact, mood disorders like depression are the 3rd most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults, adding billions to the costs of care each year. Despite this, most of the U.S. health system separates physical health and mental health, and the ways in which we treat illnesses.

Yet, for decades we have known that mental health is not truly separate from our overall health. Mental health directly affects our physical health, and vice versa. The valuation of what mental health expenditures cost our health system each year is currently estimated at $204 Billion and growing. And while treatments such Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been shown to improve thoughts and behaviors that impact health decisions and outcomes, dealing with mental health and physical health jointly can be exceptionally difficult in our current system – and therefore, often goes ignored.

Veteran Expertise And Entrepreneurship 

In an effort to create a collaboration between primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists to treat the “whole person,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has turned to a mental health technology company that will roll-out at the Corporal Michael J. Crascenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia. In this pilot – which is being funded by an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant – could be a substantial step forward for those in the VA system suffering from mental illness.

Read more here.

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