Mental illness is far too common in the United States. According to the 2023 State of Mental Health in America report from Mental Health America (MHA), more than 50 million U.S. adults, which is nearly 21% of the population, experience mental illness.
Such staggering figures underscore the need to understand the potential impact of mental illness within the realm of behavioral health and within society at large. Addressing the impact of mental health disorders is crucial to design effective strategies for improving mental health outcomes. That’s why we’re sharing insights about achieving better clinical outcomes and highlighting how early intervention and holistic approaches can promote recovery and resilience.
We’ll also examine the manner in which mental health technologies, including electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth, and patient engagement platforms, enhance access to mental health support and services for those who need it most.
The Impact of Mental Health Disorders on Society
Between 1990 and 2019, the global number of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) due to mental disorders increased from 80.8 million to 125.3 million, according to a systematic review for the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study.
The study looked at 12 mental disorders, such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, substance use, and others. It measured the burden in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), which was the number of years lived with the disability and the years of life lost due to premature mortality.
It’s clear from this research that mental health disorders are a growing problem worldwide. Consequently, the only way for society to reduce the effects of mental health disorders is to address health outcomes.
Mental Health Outcomes Reflect Quality of Life and Overall Well-Being
Mental health outcomes include observable and measurable consequences that result from an individual’s mental health status. By focusing on high-quality care — a predictor of better patient outcomes — you can improve quality-of-life indicators like well-being, satisfaction, and functioning.
Examples of positive mental health outcomes include:
- Reduction of symptoms
- Satisfaction with life, relationships, work, and leisure pursuits
- Performance of activities of daily living (functioning)
- Participation in social or community endeavors
- Collaboration in health decision-making
- Promotion of healthy behaviors
- Integration of long-term, recovery-oriented measures
- Stronger coping abilities
- Stabilization of socioeconomic status
It’s imperative for behavioral health and human services professionals to measure, track, and validate mental health outcome metrics to assess the effectiveness of treatment, plan interventions, and monitor progress.
3 Strategic Approaches to Improve Mental Health Outcomes
To promote a comprehensive strategy for improving mental health, it’s vital to address several aspects of care and support. The following strategies can enhance mental well-being and create a supportive environment for patients with mental health challenges. Understanding the challenges and implementing these strategies can pave the way for better mental health outcomes.
1. Influencing Early Intervention With Education
Early intervention is essential for recovery across many types of mental health conditions. Timely identification and intervention at the early stages of an episode can significantly improve treatment outcomes by preventing symptom exacerbation and enhancing overall well-being. But achieving early intervention requires more than just the involvement of behavioral health care professionals. To be effective, it requires the participation of patients, families, and caregivers — and it all begins with education.
Patient education as part of a broader patient engagement program influences early intervention in a number of ways. First, education helps equip all involved with baseline information to identify early indicators of exacerbation. Once recognized, individuals can take active steps to seek professional help.
Another way education improves mental health outcomes is by reducing stigma. Medical literature has shown that personal stigma can lead to fear and avoidance of mental health services, which causes delays and leads to poorer outcomes.
For families, stigma can lead to shame and isolation, which makes it harder for patients to reach out for help when they need it. Because stigma perpetuates misconceptions, it’s essential to educate against stereotyping and dispel myths by promoting accurate information about mental illness, including the importance of early intervention.
2. Promoting Resilience Using Holistic Approaches
Resilience is the ability to cope well when facing trauma, tragedy, or significant stressors like relationship difficulties, serious health issues, or workplace pressure. Adopting holistic approaches that include aspects of physical, social, and emotional well-being can help patients adopt a more balanced thinking pattern and improve their coping mechanisms.
The first step in improving a patient's ability to cope with stress is to document a thorough assessment that captures a wide range of patient data. Reports should include clinical and demographic data, lifestyle factors, and psychosocial history. With an array of advanced reporting features like surveys and reports, patient engagement technology can play an integral role in supporting resilience.
You may consider incorporating patient-reported outcome measures or PROMs for a truly holistic view. Health questionnaires and surveys like the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Panel (GAD-7) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) allow you to gather data on the respondent’s perceptions of their own physical health, mental health issues, and treatments.
By understanding how your patients self-report their emotions, symptoms, social life, and care, health systems can better target a plan for building the skills that patients need to adapt to adversity. Your patient's resilience can help offset stressors, such as bullying and peer pressure, that may otherwise cause trauma or trigger mental health problems.
3. Enhancing Access to Mental Health and Support
By focusing on access and support, you can improve the mental health of communities at scale. When you address the barriers to care and offer equitable access, you can reach a larger population, provide more timely interventions, and positively impact the mental health outcomes of many.
The good news is that you don't have to do it all yourself. Mental health technologies like EHRs, telehealth, and patient engagement platforms allow you to offer secure communication and support 24/7.
EHRs improve access to services by the timely sharing of relevant mental health data. Today, mental health providers can securely access patient data anywhere at any time. EHR technology allows better care collaboration and thus a better continuum of care. The same tech is also an evidence-based method of improving outpatient follow-up.
Since the pandemic, virtual counseling services have become increasingly popular in behavioral health care. Telehealth involves delivering mental health services remotely. It may refer to video-conferencing, phone calls, text messaging, or even over chat. This approach overcomes many care boundaries, expanding the reach of mental health services, reducing the burden of travel, and promoting access to care for communities at large.
Patient engagement apps have many tools and features that can improve access to care, including self-assessment surveys, online appointment scheduling, access to quality patient education sources, and secure communication with providers and peer communities.
These technologies help break down barriers to care like distance, cost, and limited resources. By leveraging EHRs, telehealth, and patient engagement technology, you can bridge the gap, extend the care continuum, and improve mental health outcomes.
Are There Comprehensive Technology Solutions for Better Mental Health Outcomes?
ContinuumCloud understands the importance of technology to drive change. Our innovative cloud-based solutions include a comprehensive EHR with telehealth capabilities and the CaredFor app, a mobile patient engagement platform. The software streamlines data collection, measures outcomes, and improves mental healthcare delivery.
Our EHR provides a centralized hub for clinical documentation that offers mental health professionals a holistic view of their patient’s progress. It stores relevant information in one place so clinicians can easily track treatment outcomes, identify trends, and make more informed decisions about patient care.
Highly customizable reporting capabilities empower users to create meaningful reports on treatment outcomes, population health, and progress in benchmarking. The platform makes it easy to share relevant data with consulting physicians, primary care, or inpatient providers.
Moreover, the CaredFor app offers features and tools that encourage patients to participate in their own health journey — and they can do it right from their mobile device.
There’s a patient education library that you can curate to ensure it supports your culture and programming. Self-assessment reports allow patients to monitor their well-being, track their symptoms, and optimize their quality of life.
Through feedback surveys, patients (as well as alumni and caregivers) can share their experiences and provide greater insight into treatment and programming. The app also promotes regular check-ins so patients can share their updates and seek care at the earliest signs of exacerbation.
It’s Time to Embrace Technology and Improve Mental Health Outcomes
ContinuumCloud's software solutions are designed to work seamlessly together, ensuring a holistic approach to mental health care. Combining a comprehensive EHR solution and the CaredFor app allows mental health providers to collect comprehensive data, measure outcomes, and make data-driven improvements to their treatment approaches.
In an era when technology plays a central role in mental health care, join us at the forefront. With ContinuumCloud’s EHR software and patient engagement app, clinicians can streamline workflows, enhance patient engagement, and drive positive changes in mental healthcare delivery.
Our user-centric approach empowers both clinicians and patients, ultimately leading to better mental health outcomes and a brighter future for mental care. Connect with us today to learn more about our approach to serving the behavioral health and human services industry.