Behavioral Health: Addressing Stigma and Whole Health

In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness each year, with 1 in 20 experiencing serious mental illness.1 Over 40 million Americans age 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year.2 With around 120 million people living in an area where such care providers are scarce, the need for behavioral healthcare far outpaces care provider availability.3

In addition, roadblocks like geography, lack of early identification and intervention coupled with constrained community resources, inefficient use of available resources, cost of care, and stigma too often stand in the way of treatment.

To address these challenges, all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem must orient care around stigma reduction and whole health — working toward greater access to care, supporting care providers, and empowering individuals to receive behavioral health as early as possible, on their own terms.

Partnering Together With Care Providers for Better Outcomes

As a leader in behavioral health nationwide, Carelon Behavioral Health serves more than 56 million people.4 Carelon Behavioral Health's programs center around the belief that recovery is possible and address the full spectrum of behavioral health services, including mood disorders, substance misuse, suicide prevention, and crisis intervention, as well as underlying social drivers of health (SDoH) — including housing, employment, and food access — that greatly influence well-being. Additionally, Elevance Health and its affiliates manage physical and behavioral health for 20 million consumers5 — allowing us to address health holistically.

Together with care providers, Carelon Behavioral Health works to educate and connect people with the resources and care they need, when and how they choose to receive it. Identification and access to appropriate behavioral healthcare is particularly critical to favorable patient outcomes, sustained recovery, and improved health status. Strategies to enhance behavioral health access in partnership with care providers can include:

Value-based payment: Offering models that provide quality incentives and allow care providers to participate in shared savings can also improve their experience and retention. Working together with care providers, we identify opportunities to drive program performance.

High-touch care provider service: Optimizing behavioral healthcare provider experience can improve their satisfaction and retention. Carelon Behavioral Health's Strategic Alliance Provider Partnership is a high-touch service model delivering a differentiated care provider experience through process standardization.

Direct care provision: Carelon Behavioral Care Services offers services direct to consumers in retail settings and medical locations and via telehealth to better integrate physical and behavioral health.

Addressing social drivers of health: By collaborating to meet needs for social supports along with health services, we can help avoid the repercussions of behavioral health crises that we see too often, like emergency department visits and law enforcement involvement. Carelon Behavioral Health offers a range of other programs and services that address social drivers of health — from housing and support programs for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness to 24-hour levels of care, including psychiatric inpatient hospitalizations and substance use disorder withdrawal management. We also offer resources for primary care providers who serve low-income and minority populations and training for care providers around SDoH.

Culturally competent support: The Community Resource Navigator program has helped thousands of workers connect with community-based social supports through a designated coordinator who is matched with each employee to align language and culture. Local, culturally competent, and knowledgeable staff have helped thousands of a client's employees identify and take advantage of childcare, eldercare, food insecurity, housing, transportation, and financial resources.6

Access to care: In February 2023, Carelon Behavioral Health opened its first brick-and-mortar location in partnership with CareMore, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Providing physical and behavioral health services to military members and their families, the clinic is specifically designed to help make access to behavioral healthcare more expedient and convenient for this community.

Carelon Behavioral Health offers access to a nationwide network of more than 140,000 specialty care providers7 and works with them to create solutions that enhance overall health and well-being for patients while making care providers' lives easier.

Results: Accessible Care

80x increase in telehealth sessions from 2019-20208

Telehealth available in all 50 states9

Empowering Individuals

When a person is in crisis, having established, professional services ready to help is critical. Carelon Behavioral Health services can help through:

Peer counseling: Overcoming SDoH barriers, substance use disorder, and/or mental health challenges is hard. Research shows that more successful outcomes are possible when those who need assistance feel a connection to someone who understands their experience. Carelon Behavioral Health peer support specialists are trained to use their lived expertise to help individuals overcome barriers to recovery and remain engaged throughout their recovery journey.

Comprehensive crisis systems of care: A readily accessible crisis response system is imperative to increasing access to behavioral healthcare. We work with states, counties, and territories to create an ideal crisis system that connects stakeholders and serves as a "no wrong door" entry point into the behavioral health system. Administered properly, crisis systems improve health equity and quality of life by reducing unnecessary emergency department visits, reducing law enforcement involvement, and, most importantly, saving lives.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline support: In 2022, Carelon Behavioral Health was selected by Vibrant Emotional Health to support the national launch of 988. Nationwide, we provide backup text and chat center support for the program in English and Spanish.

Helping Those in Crisis

Carelon Behavioral Health provides backup support for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, providing assistance by chat and text. Hear how one associate made a difference in the life of one person in dire need.

Forward Together

Even before COVID-19, our country had far too few behavioral health professionals — a problem the pandemic further fueled. Yet in recent years, stakeholders across the healthcare system have demonstrated an increasing commitment to addressing mental health and substance use disorder as key components of whole health. By working with care providers to design and ensure a full range of accessible patient needs across the behavioral health continuum are met, we are committed to being part of the solution.

1 National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health By The Numbers (accessed December 2022): nami.org/mhstats. 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) (October 5, 2022): cdc.gov/dotw/substance-use-disorders/index.html. 3 Open Minds, Over One-Third Of Americans Live In Areas Lacking Mental Health Professionals (accessed December 2022): openminds.com. 4 Carelon Behavioral Health internal data (2022). 5 Elevance Health internal data (2022). 6 Carelon Behavioral Health internal data (2022). 7 Carelon Behavioral Health internal network data (2022). 8 Elevance Health, 2020 Annual & Corporate Responsibility Report. 9 MDLIVE, MDLIVE and Beacon Health Options Partner to Bring Clients Trusted and Comprehensive Virtual Behavioral Health Services (August 7, 2018): mdlive.com.