Elevance Health Addresses the Increased Mental and Behavioral Healthcare Needs of Millennials and Older Gen Z Adults
People in the United States say they believe mental health is crucial, but nearly one in three are not aware of the actual impact poor mental health can have on their daily lives. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, mental health and behavioral health are two distinct facets of whole health that affect people from all walks of life.
Our Analysis Found That Younger Working-Age People Are Prioritizing Their Mental Health and Well-being
Focusing the lens further, generational attitudes inform how varying age groups interact with the healthcare system. A McKinsey survey found that younger working-age people, including millennials (ages 26-41) and Generation Z (ages 10-25) adults, say that mental health is one of their greatest concerns. In recognizing their own needs, these age groups take a proactive approach to their healthcare decisions, as reflected in an Elevance Health analysis of commercial health plan claims data. 1 This analysis found that younger working-age people sought care at increasing rates in 2021, with Gen Z experiencing an overall increase of 11% and millennials up 8% as compared to 2020. The rise reflects social challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic while strongly demonstrating that younger-age working people are now getting the care they need and catching up on delayed care.
Millennial and Gen Z age groups, who saw their parents and grandparents experience stigma and discouragement when discussing their mental health conditions, now reject negative cultural attitudes surrounding mental and behavioral healthcare,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, chief health officer at Elevance Health. “They’ve pushed the healthcare system to be more flexible and improve access through innovation."
How We Are Addressing Behavioral and Mental Healthcare
At Elevance Health, we are working to address the behavioral and mental healthcare needs of all our members, at every age, through our diverse Carelon portfolio, as well as our health plan brands Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Wellpoint.
Expanding Virtual Care
The use of behavioral health telehealth grew exponentially during the pandemic, and people now expect and rely on the convenience it offers for healthcare. Digital natives like millennials and older Gen Z adults especially gravitate toward these solutions. Through the Sydney Health app, a spectrum of care delivery options is available: digital, virtual, and in-person. Sydney Health can connect eligible members to a virtual text visit or a video visit with a behavioral or mental health provider such as a therapist or counselor. The app allows users to get important information about benefits and claims, track your progress toward health goals, access your member ID card, and more. Through virtual care, consumers can connect with trusted resources, have a personalized experience, and manage their healthcare journey.
Providing Resources to Advance Health Equity
Younger working-age adults continue to lead the way for themselves, their families and communities, and society when seeking care. They understand behavioral and mental health inequities are bigger than just mental health, encompassing wellness and experiences specific to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.
Elevance Health is dedicated to advancing health equity through our “health equity by design” approach. This approach is personalized and intentional, ensuring that people can receive individualized care. As we develop programs and solutions for behavioral and mental healthcare challenges, we keep health equity at the center of all that we do.
Through sites like Stronger Together, we work with national organizations to create resources that advance health equity and help people where they live, learn, work, and play. These resources are free and available to everyone. Interactive websites, workshops, and online toolkits support African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, school communities, community-based organizations, young people, healthcare providers, caregivers, and more.
Improving Access to Care and Resources
Most age groups have experienced rises in mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders in 2021.2 In our analysis of 2021 commercial health plan claims data, we found that younger working-age people significantly increased their demand for services for these conditions when compared to other adults.
This increase in diagnosis rates signals that these generations are actively seeking the mental and behavioral healthcare they need. Rather than just indicating a problem, the trend can also be seen as a sign of a heightening awareness and willingness to seek solutions. To help with that, we must address behavioral drivers of health and work to reduce stigma by ensuring access to quality care and helping communities build resilience. Innovative approaches to caring for people at every age level include the expansion of behavioral health support services like the national 988 crisis hotline. Elevance Health’s Beacon Health Options will operate many states’ 988 numbers using coordinated system technology and trained intake specialists and licensed clinicians.
To support the increase in younger working-age people seeking behavioral healthcare services, we need to treat behavioral health as a driver of whole health, reduce stigma, and advance health equity. At Elevance Health, we honor the needs of the people we serve by providing access to digital tools, expanding community resources and services, and innovating potential solutions to the barriers that separate people from the care they deserve.
1. The Elevance Health analysis of Commercial and Medicaid claims data was conducted to review mental health reporting prevalence and trends in the United States in 2021. The claims data was collected by age group and compared among the Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and Older Seniors age ranges.
2. Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, ADHD, and adjustment disorders are the leading mental health diagnoses for all age groups. The order of prevalence in these conditions is highly variable based on the age group and time comparison.
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