The Future of Mental Health – A New Vision
If we want to impact a new vision of mental health care and support, we cannot simply focus on just what we need today, but recognize current trends and envision the future.
When we strategize, we cannot keep using the traditional campaigns and other models … is anyone really even paying attention and attending them? Yes, but we need to have a larger vision beyond the few. We need to look at our culture, where people are, what language do they really understand, what are the current trends leading us to change … where can we go, where can we impact real transformation?
We need to look outside the box and build there. We need to see where mental health care is headed and then we will know where to invest our time and energy.
So, let’s explore the future of mental health …
1) Stigma Decreased by Hollywood
Mental Illness campaigns are helpful, but sometimes they seem to be “preaching to the choir”. What will help normalize mental illness will be Hollywood. New shows like, Black Box, or movies like, Silver Linings Playbook or A Beautiful Mind, will connect us to characters struggling with mental illness. In addition, this will normalize mental illness affecting the everyday family and brilliant people, not only an issue associated with crime and homelessness … or the movies, shows, games that feed the stigma of the psycho-killer. These Hollywood productions will portray the traditional problems and not touch on the reality of recovery, however they will create an everyday “norm”. The conversation will increase. The awareness will be real. The story will be not “those people”, but about all of us.
What we can do now: Stigma campaigns should be working closely with Hollywood screenwriters. These stories can be entertaining, full of passion and genuinely inspiring.
2) Youth-led Movement
It seems like the majority of the frontline mental health advocates are 40 and above. Young people are not the majority. Popular mental health organizations have a link to understand mental illness and youth, but no real youth leaders taking charge. This will shift, and when they get involved, they will ease the cultural understanding, make the language relevant, and build a more acceptable perception. Over time we will see more groups like Rethink.org incorporate a youth movement. We need to let young people lead the charge!
What we can do now: Youth and College Pastors can have more relevant topics to introduce the mental health subject … breaking stigma is breaking the shame … this is what saves lives! We should have more real conversations with young people and incorporating them into more dialogues. Give them more platforms to make it easy to understand and then turn them loose to make it real and normal for everyone.
3) Preventative Healthy Living
Society is becoming more focused on general health and wellness. Insurance companies even encourage healthy living, promoting wellness coaches and web-based programs to build rewards for healthy living. You will see more information on how healthy living leads to improved mental health and is even preventative of serious mental health disorders. This will break down stigma! People will have more understanding of mental health symptoms (stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, addiction, eating issues, and cutting), not seeing them as a scary “mental illness” or just weak “personal issues”. This change will allow mental health to move beyond the acute crises, but rather on prevention.
What we can do now: Stigma campaigns should be reaching out to insurance companies, wellness centers and general practice – showing how this type of preventative focus can reduce costs.
4) Changing the model to Restorative Focus vs. Acute Stability
Mental health care is focused on the acute treatment of “repairing lives”, not much on “rebuilding lives”. People have nowhere to turn until the situation escalates into a hospitalization … then its “slamming” with medication. It’s the acute get “Fixed”. That is why there is so much discouragement with the mental health care system. As mentioned above, there will be more understanding with preventative care and support, which lends naturally to restorative care for acute situations. Restorative care includes professional care and community support programs. This will change the acute care hospital model – it will diversify to cover more mental health restorative care, which integrates families and peers.
What we can do now: see discussion after #6
5) General Practice & Integrated Teams
The future will include more training for family doctors (GPs) and even have key staff or peer providers for follow-up care to address the lack of general mental health professionals. There will be more integrated and holistic focused care within general centers offering teams that provide medication, psychotherapy, peer support, nutritionists, physical trainers, and more. Much like the popular gyms offering classes, personal trainers, and various services – mental health care will have more and more of these centers. Many of these centers already exist, but they are expensive. There will be many who will move to a member or club model. Each person will pay a general membership rather than $100’s each appointment. This type of mental health center, along with their online and/or apps services, can service more of the population and even low-income families. This can even be adopted into a full-immersion residential housing experience. It can be low-cost and more effective. It could revolutionize the mental health care system.
6) Accessibility through Community & Peer Providers
The community will be the first line of defense offering preventative and restorative care. Churches, schools, and community programs will have more preventative and restorative understanding and peer support, not just 1-800 numbers or local crisis teams (which tends to overload the hospitals and ERs). You will see two types of Peer Providers … Peer Specialist and Peer Coaches. The first will work alongside clinical practice, mental health programs, schools, community organizations, and within transitional care homes and state programs. This approach is more cost effective and can better handle the frontline work, which will enhance professional care. Mental Health Peer Coaches will be an added level of support that incorporates ministry leaders, community program leaders, and other volunteers. The frontlines of care will be peers and advocates.
What we can do now: Develop more programs and peer provider teams that can work alongside professionals to deliver supportive care. Our Thrive program uniquely works with families and peers, navigating their professional care and helping them rebuild life. These teams can expand within clinics, mental health professionals, churches, and other organizations. Focus on training within pastoral care teams and other community organizations.
7) Accessibility through Technology
No more waiting to get in to a professional. With the technological advances, preventative and restorative care is now one click or app away. It is currently being used, but you will see a huge increase and popularity with this accessibility.
- Peer Providers and Free Online Resources - Peer services will provide online or phone support (like our Thrive program). As well, there are many online resources with videos, websites, and apps to help with therapeutic intervention.
- Psychiatrist and Therapist are now available through online care … this will become standard. Many appointments will be conducted online, saving time and increasing access.
- Smart phone apps and wearable devices ... they will monitor heart rate, voice, breathing, sleep, remind for medications, and virtually walk the person through different therapeutic tools to use for distress and general therapy (without a professional or peer provider) … these will hugely effective to reduce symptoms and life management. Much of the overall care can be easily guided through with one of the technological advancements.
What we can do now: Request and Give! Tell your mental health professionals to look into this type of online service – within their State (as far as their license will allow them). Give to organization’s like Key Ministry and ours (Grace Alliance) who are providing online support to many across the US and around the world … helping them attend church online and providing personalized recovery help.
The last 50-60 yrs. have seen the greatest advancement for psychology and psychiatry since their beginning. Advanced technologies and pioneering research will propel us to more effective mental health care. Psychotherapy will have more brain research providing simplified and adaptable tools for preventative and restorative tools. Evidence-based therapy will evolve to new effective methods, much like research with PTSD and re-editing memories, or like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Open Dialogue Therapy, which are having incredible outcomes. Medications will advance targeting more accurately to treat specific symptoms, taking less often, and have fewer side effects. I believe there are more medication and therapeutic breakthroughs coming.
What we can do now: We need to advocate for more federal funds and foundations to invest pioneering research and help these new and effective evidence-based therapies get established. We need these new therapy programs to develop into training models for educators, jails, hospital staff, peer providers, and the general population.
9) Results Focused
This is the age of information and tangible results. People want to see progress, not just objective feedback from a counselor. The measures will be conducted through varying lab work and simple survey monitoring. This will be used with clients to reinforce the positive therapeutic tools, healthy living, and behavioral modifications. Negative scores will provide more evaluation to discover target areas needed for better care. This will be key within the technological software apps and online resources. This will be the growing trend for improved care.
What we can do now: Ask professionals if they use any metrics for progress. If not, ask if they can start providing them or use your own. Discover apps that can help you monitor changes in sleep, mood, thoughts, etc. Create a new trend for yourself and show the results to your professionals.
10) New Mental Health Laws
Government will begin to recognize and make changes making it easier for insurance and federal funding to cover mental health services. The funding will help for acute care, however, to also help identify services for preventative / restorative models. These models will be more cost effective and cover long-term care. Many diagnosed end-up in jail, but new services will help move these individuals to appropriate care and better follow-up through community programs. In addition, new laws will provide better access and communication between professionals and families of distressed loved ones. On and on … laws will address the frustrations we all know are there.
What we can do now: Educate yourself what’s going on nationally with new mental health laws or lobbying. What’s happening in your neck of the woods? We’ve not personally turned the tide on national laws yet, however we have assisted the courts, law officers, attorneys, probation officers, hospital professionals … creating a practical way to serve until the laws change.
There is so much more to discuss … How do you think we can advance mental health care for the future? Within the church and within our society?
Go to our Facebook and let us know what you think!
Co-Founder / CEO Mental Health Grace Alliance