Mental health is a growing concern in the United States, with an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts in 2020 alone.
A recent analysis by Evernorth found that children and youth in particular are at risk, as suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among people 17 and under have seen a sharp rise. Compared to other age groups, children and adolescents had seven times the rate of increase in suicide ideation (21% vs. an average of 3%) and six times the rate of increase in suicide attempts (26% vs. an average of 4%) from 2020 to 2021. The study examined aggregated data from commercially insured customers.
“Young people are increasingly facing serious mental health challenges, making it essential that they have access to services designed to support them,” said Dr. Stuart Lustig, national medical director for behavioral health at Evernorth, the health services division of The Cigna Group.
In many cases, finding help can be a challenge. At Evernorth, we are always looking for ways to expand access to specialized behavioral health care for children and families. Below, we look at some of the ways we are doing that.
Increasing Access to Personalized Support and Expert Care
Finding the right provider is one of the top challenges parents face when trying to get help for a child struggling with mental health issues. Research finds that 64% of parents report difficulty in finding a trusted behavioral health professional for their child. Improving access to care is the first step in helping youths and children struggling with mental health.
That’s why, recently, Evernorth added Brightline, a nationwide virtual behavioral health care solution for children and families, to our behavioral health network. Families can get expert virtual therapy, psychiatry, and coaching for children and teens. This includes:
- Fast access to personalized support: Families can chat with a mental health expert and schedule video visits within days.
- Evidence-based care from experts: Brightline providers have years of experience working with children of all ages.
- Resources for parents and caregivers: Brightline monitors parents' and caregivers' stress levels and keeps them updated.
- Access to a one-stop digital platform: Parents can manage their family’s care, track progress and appointments, and read articles vetted by experts, all in one place.
“Brightline is one way we are expanding our ability to connect children and youths who are struggling with mental health challenges with care and treatment options quickly and efficiently, while providing peace of mind for the entire family,” said Eva Borden, president of behavioral health at Evernorth.
A Data-Driven Approach to Behavioral Health Care
At Evernorth, we integrate data including, but not limited to, medical, pharmacy, and behavioral health care data, as well as digital and social determinants of health data, to proactively identify customers in need of support. This integrated whole-person view allows us to guide customers into care with the right providers, resulting in quality outcomes.
Outreach includes access to 24/7 crisis support, connecting customers to suicide awareness resources, coaching support for young adults, and other personalized clinical support. When someone with an eating disorder is having suicidal thoughts, for example, we can proactively offer programs that support those specific needs. We are also investing in interoperability to drive real-time identification and proactive outreach when a patient has a mental health or suicide ideation-related visit to the emergency room.
Care for the Whole Family
When children suffer from mental health issues, the whole family feels the strain. Recent research shows that nearly one in five (18%) working parents report that their teenager’s emotional state has a negative impact on their job performance and productivity.
At Evernorth, our Caregiver solution allows members to get support that includes digital cognitive behavioral therapy with a clinical expert. The solution also provides curated educational resources, personalized coaching, and care-planning support to arm caregivers with everything they need to support their child, family, and themselves. Access to social and peer support is also available.
“We are deeply committed to improving access to behavioral health care for our members with investments in data-driven identification models, real-time outreach to members who need help, and expanding our behavioral network to quickly meet the unique needs of each person,” Borden said.