6 Ways Health Care Marketers Can Help Address Mental Illness in the Primary Care Setting — and Improve Their Organizations’ Bottom Line

September 5, 2018

// By Lisa D. Ellis //

In recent months, stories about mental illness have dominated social media channels and the mainstream press. The tragic suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and television personality Anthony Bourdain have thrust mental health issues into the limelight, catching the attention of people from all walks of life. Further, the recent rash of shootings in schools and at public events both in the U.S. and abroad have also raised widespread awareness about the broad impact that mental health issues, left untreated, can have on entire communities.

Beatriz Mallory, senior vice president, managing director of cross-cultural marketing agency SensisHealth

Beatriz Mallory, senior vice president, managing director of cross-cultural marketing agency SensisHealth

With so much at stake, and with mental health diagnoses often co-occurring with a variety of health issues, health care marketers have a unique opportunity to try to reach a population that is struggling, helping them connect to behavioral health services in the most cost-effective way, according to Beatriz Mallory, senior vice president, managing director of cross-cultural marketing agency SensisHealth in Los Angeles.

Identifying the Issue

“Statistics from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reveal that about 68 percent of behavioral health patients have some medical comorbidity,” Mallory explains. “That means that the vast majority of them should be coming through primary care.”

Yet many behavioral health concerns (by some accounts as many as half) are overlooked by primary care physicians. As a result, instead of addressing the issue at the first point of contact, all too often the problem continues and ultimately leads the patient to end up in the emergency room (in some cases, even multiple times).

From a societal standpoint, mental illness can be costly on so many levels when you consider its connection to suicides, murders, car accidents, child abuse, lost productivity, and so much more. For health care organizations engaged in value-based care, missing the diagnosis at the first point of contact also means that it will be more expensive to address later, Mallory says. With better awareness among primary care physicians, these issues can be addressed more readily to everyone’s benefit.

Although health care marketers have no authority over the clinical side of the equation, Mallory emphasizes that there are still ways that marketers can help to improve the situation. Read on to learn 6 ways marketers can help.


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