Behavioral health is the focus on the mental and behavioral habits that people develop including eating habits, behaviors such as smoking and drinking, and lifestyle. Problems in this area often lead to diseases like drug use, addiction, eating disorders, and more. Behavioral health clinics use a variety of therapies and treatments to help their clients. Technologies such as mobile devices give people easier access to their provider when they need it, enhancing the treatment they are receiving, and can help with skill training, thinking skills, and tracking symptoms. Cloud-based solutions for behavioral health can be controversial but many practitioners use them with success.
The importance of behavioral health on families, communities, and nations has been known for some time. However, many governments and other funding institutions are not fully aware of the financial and social implications. Behavioral health impacts communities in many ways, not just in helping to reduce the incidence of familial problems such as foster care needs and drug abuse, but also in larger ways such as building a more stable economic and community structure.
Improved Quality of Life
The most essential benefit of enhanced behavioral health is the improved life given to those that receive it. No amount of economic benefit can outweigh the benefit of the improvement in an individual’s quality of life. Behavioral health interventions contribute to improving the overall well-being of individuals and communities. By addressing mental health and promoting well-being, communities can experience reduced rates of substance abuse, lower rates of violence, improved relationships, and increased overall life satisfaction.
Improved Productivity and Economic Impact
While there are many different reasons that medical providers, governments, and community organizations should support and encourage behavioral health centers in the community, we should not overlook the economic impact. By addressing behavioral health issues, communities can enhance productivity and economic growth, sometimes dramatically. According to the World Health Organization, every dollar invested in the treatment of common mental disorders can yield a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. This is a clear sign of a healthier, more sustainable community.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
Healthcare costs in the United States have been soaring for years. It is now nearly 20% of our GDP, whereas in 1960 is was only 5%. That increase has made a big difference in the way Americans spend money and how important health insurance is. One way to save money in healthcare is by providing more holistic treatment. Treating behavioral health issues can lead to cost savings in healthcare, as many physical and mental problems can be prevented through good behavioral health care. Research shows that integrating mental health services into primary care settings can result in a 30% reduction in healthcare costs for patients with mental health conditions.
Decreased Criminal Justice Expenses
Criminal justice is one of the largest expenses of communities and governments, and finding ways to reduce expenses is a goal of many organizations and politicians. One of the best ways of reducing criminal justice expenses is, of course, reducing the number of people in the criminal justice system, especially reducing the number of those who are incarcerated. Effective behavioral health programs can reduce criminal justice expenses associated with incarceration, court proceedings, and emergency services. One community-based organization that partnered with a jail in Oregon saved an estimated $2.5 million in prison expenses.
Enhanced Academic Performance
Academic performance is another powerful way that behavioral health treatment can benefit communities. By addressing behavioral health concerns in schools, providers and clinics can positively impact academic performance in statistically significant ways. Students with improved mental health have higher attendance rates, increased graduation rates, and better academic achievements. A study estimated that for every dollar invested in school-based mental health services, there is a return of $2.86 in benefits, including academic gains and reduced crime.
Strengthened Social Fabric and Community Resilience
Finally, the impact of better behavioral health on communities cannot be overstated. Behavioral health efforts made by social and medical organizations contribute to building stronger and more resilient communities. By providing accessible and effective mental health support, communities can promote social cohesion, reduce stigma, and foster a sense of well-being among individuals and families.
In communities with poor mental and behavioral health, the social fabric is weak and family structure often dissolves. Foster care needs are high, and governments must spend more money supporting and upholding institutions. In addition, many community-based social organizations that usually provide support to families and individuals, such as churches, food banks, and senior centers, are not as prevalent in areas where there is a high rate of poor behavioral health. This creates a heavier burden on local governments and out-of-town charities.
Reduced Long-Term Costs
Investing in early intervention and prevention programs for behavioral health issues can lead to significant long-term cost savings. By identifying and addressing mental and behavioral health concerns at an early stage, communities can reduce the need for expensive hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and long-term care. They can also reduce the length of treatment in many cases, and help prevent the development of comorbidities and the development of more problems within the family.
There are many advantages to better access to behavioral health, from stronger families to stronger communities. There are also many economic benefits associated with better mental health care which can positively impact communities and families, as well as reduce the money spent on social programs by governments and non-profit organizations.