Welcome to the 2024 Behavioral Health Industry Report!
As behavioral health leaders look ahead to 2024, they have a lot on their minds. Organizations continue to struggle with unsurpassed demand, staffing shortages, and ever-evolving regulatory requirements that create key challenges and opportunities. In this latest industry report, we explore how behavioral health organizations are prioritizing their initiatives in the new year, balancing the complex dynamics between employee engagement, service delivery, and patient outcomes. This report also illuminates key challenges related to these various initiatives as well as top strategies for overcoming them.
Employee-focused initiatives continue to top the priority list.
Recruiting, retention, and employee engagement have consistently topped the list of priorities for behavioral health organizations for the past eight years that we’ve been collecting this data. Finding qualified talent and keeping them engaged and happy at work continues to be a widespread challenge across the industry. Affecting everything from service delivery to patient outcomes, the employee is at the foundation of an organization’s operations.
Culture and DEI initiatives that rose in priority following the events of 2020 have dropped back down in importance.
At the bottom of the priority list for 2024 is company culture and DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) initiatives. This matches results from the version of this report released in 2020, in which DEI initiatives were also the lowest priority. However, 2020 was a pivotal year, marked not only by significant changes in the workplace due to the pandemic but also by social justice movements that were making headlines. By the time the 2021 report was released, company culture and DEI initiatives jumped to the third most important initiative. Over the next few years, these priorities continued to drop to fourth, sixth, and now tenth, indicating a return to our pre-pandemic baseline.
Behavioral health organizations are planning for growth.
On a more positive note, behavioral health organizations are largely looking to grow in 2024. In fact, 65% of respondents indicated that their organization is planning to grow or expand services in 2024. This growth is likely a result of consistently high demand for services, but organizations will need to balance between the need for services and the ability to deliver them with adequate staffing levels.
Behavioral health organizations are not innovating with technology to drive this growth.
As organizations look to expand, the technology they use can either help or hinder these efforts. However, only 40% of organizations say that they are continuously evaluating their technology, and the remaining 60% evaluate on a less frequent basis. Additionally, only 33% are planning to better integrate their tech solutions in 2024, and a mere 28% are planning to leverage AI to support their operations in 2024. With technology continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, behavioral health organizations still lag behind other industries in their willingness/ability to innovate.
To learn more about the latest industry trends, including top challenges and strategies to overcome them, view the full 2024 Behavioral Health Industry Trends Report.
Methodology: The 2024 Behavioral Health Industry Report draws insights from more than 200 behavioral health and human services professionals who completed an online survey in December 2023. A nominal incentive in the form of a gift card was provided for the initial group of respondents.