Reinventing Behavioral Health—A Virtual Lifeline for Patients

Liz bio photo
Liz Conlin
VP Client Service Director
May 24, 2021
May 24, 2021

Patient virtually interacting with doctor on a tablet

Behavioral health services from your sofa

It’s no secret that the pandemic is taking a toll on our mental health, particularly marginalized communities and frontline workers. Forty-seven percent of Americans report negative mental health effects due to the disruption and isolation. An average of 70% of those who need mental health care don’t get help because of stigma, provider shortages and systemic delivery system access problems.1 And according to a recent study from Cigna, the need for behavioral health outpatient care increased 27% compared to pre-pandemic levels.2

Fortunately, companies are disrupting traditional approaches and meeting patients where they are—an estimated 60% of behavioral health services are now virtual.2

This, combined with more government and private funding, is making mental, behavioral and substance abuse treatments more accessible.

Here are a few examples of companies that are gaining momentum and funding in the behavioral health space:

Do-it-yourself Meditation & Mindfulness


Headspace was founded by a Buddhist monk and an ad executive in 2010 who had one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world through meditation and mindfulness. They now have over 190 million users world-wide. Online classes and apps teach the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, how to destress and sleep better.

Online Therapists

Lyra Health

Lyra helps companies — from Starbucks to McDonalds — improve employee access to effective, high-quality mental health care. Mental health issues cost companies millions of dollars in lost productivity, absenteeism and turnover. Lyra’s technology and innovative digital platform connect over 2.5 million members to a curated network of top therapists and coaches, who are guaranteed to be available, resulting in 7x more people receiving care and 80% improving or recovering. In Q1 ‘21 they received $187 million in funding.3

Retail Therapy of a New Kind


This January, CVS launched a pilot program in mental health care in Houston, Philadelphia and Tampa with plans to expand to 34 new markets this year. It’s targeting diverse communities where mental health care isn’t readily available.

The program is an extension of CVS’ HealthHUBs, which exist in 650 of its nearly 10,000 stores, offering urgent care and wellness products. The idea is to create a place where consumers can get eye exams, diabetes screenings and vaccinations, as well as mental health treatment, where they already buy their prescriptions. CVS is covering the cost of care for Aetna-insured patients and has negotiated similar deals with a growing list of other insurers to reduce the cost for patients.4

Online Substance Disorder Treatment


The founders of WorkitHealth recognize that not everyone can leave their job or loved ones for a 30-day rehab program, or afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with inpatient programs.

WorkitHealth brings gold standard addiction care to the privacy of the home, combining research-backed therapeutic programming with FDA-approved medication.

Meeting people where they are is the new normal

All of these companies have one thing in common: the patient is at the center of care services. While face-to-face counseling will always have a place, digital tools such as telehealth counseling and self-directed learning will continue to expand.

As demand for behavioral health services grows and the industry adapts to meet people where they are, it is important to assess how your services or a portion of them can adapt:

  • Can your offer be delivered remotely or in a more accessible location?
  • Can you attract new audiences by changing your model of delivery?
  • What technology and/or operations changes do you need to make?
  • Can you expand your offer to provide clinical and behavioral health services together?
  • Do your communications and media strategies reflect the changes you have made?

If you need help answering these questions or strategizing about your business, or just want to talk, we’re here to help.