Improving mental health care for all: Lessons learned in 2022 

Overall, 2022 was a year full of health care transformation. One key takeaway is the importance of investing in mental health: both our own and others.

From the on-going pandemic to the increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression, we were all faced with countless challenges throughout 2022. With this, many things happened in the world of health care that were somewhat unexpected.  One of the more positive outcomes that I was pleasantly surprised by, was the overwhelming support and outreach our executives and physicians offered in response to the rapidly growing mental health crisis. The willingness of so many of our caregivers to be vulnerable and openly talk about sensitive subjects such as their own mental health, the impact of burnout on themselves and their teams, and the importance of maintaining work-life harmony, was truly extraordinary. 

Many of our leaders were able to connect with others by letting their guard down and becoming comfortable with sharing their ‘humanness.’ This is a significant paradigm shift from years past, where we lived in a culture that celebrated people, especially those in the health care field, for being ‘superhuman’ or ‘heroes.’ The idea that individuals caring for others, need to also be cared for themselves, became much more normalized in 2022. At the end of the day, we are whole-persons caring for whole-persons. Caring for the mental well-being of the health care workforce is not simply a priority but rather a precondition to delivering excellent care with compassion. 

Driving meaningful change

Nevertheless, we continue to see that mental health care is still deeply fragmented, and that medical, psychosocial and family support systems are not coordinated. Stigma is highly prevalent, and care tends to be episodic or reactive. The health care sector lacks measurement-based care in the mental health field. There is no single solution or silver bullet to address these challenges. However, intentionally designing systems of care that are more coordinated, include proactive screening, use of evidence-based interventions while measuring outcomes and monitoring for relapse, normalizing help seeking behavior and addressing the stigma, will help us drive meaningful change. 

Our nation’s current system is undeniably flawed. Sixty percent of people experiencing mental health issues do not receive care. Of those who do receive care, less than one-third of them receive optimal care. Additionally, evidence-based care is extremely limited, and there is a large delay in patients receiving the help they need. 

As we enter the new year, we will continue to strive to reduce mental health stigma and increase access to care using lessons learned in 2022. Together, we are committed to improving mental health care for all.