Insights on utilization of behavioral health services in the context of COVID-19

Behavioral health needs have increased since the pandemic began even as claims data show the use of behavioral health services has decreased. This article reflects updates based on refined methodology and analysis as of mid-2021.

June 15, 2021

In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the use of behavioral health services, McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare analyzed a claims data sample from 115,000 healthcare providers who delivered behavioral healthcare to more than 20 million Americans in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, psychological distress and substance use have reached new levels in the United States. While there has been a decline in the use of behavioral health services as measured by healthcare claims, the rise of telehealth has helped maintain access to care during the pandemic. There has also been growth in behavioral health services not covered by insurance (and thus not captured by claims) such as EAP counseling, digital platforms to connect, and virtual coaching.

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In this infographic, we provide data to describe the trends in behavioral health utilization since the onset of the pandemic (January 2020 through March 2021, as compared to 2019), and suggest actions stakeholders can consider taking going forward. This publication builds on prior publications: Unlocking whole person care through behavioral health and Understanding the hidden costs of COVID-19s potential impact on US healthcare.

Note as of June 10, 2021: This infographic reflects an update to our previously published data, including a refined methodology.

For more related insights, visit the Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare’s webpage.

Insights on utilization of behavioral health services in the context of COVID-19 (June 2021 update)
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March 8, 2021

By Erica Coe, Kevin Collins, Kana Enomoto, and Uzoma Ononogbu

Behavioral health needs have increased since the pandemic began even as the use of behavioral health services has decreased.

In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the use of behavioral health services, McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare analyzed a data sample from 115,000 healthcare providers who delivered behavioral healthcare to more than 20 million Americans in 2019 and 2020. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, psychological distress and substance use have reached new levels in the United States. While there has been a decline in the use of behavioral health services, the rise of telehealth has helped maintain access to care during the pandemic and suggests some options for stakeholders as they look towards 2021 and beyond.

In this infographic, we provide data to describe the trends in behavioral health utilization in 2020 and suggest actions stakeholders can consider taking in 2021. This publication builds on prior publications: Unlocking whole person care through behavioral health and Understanding the hidden costs of COVID-19s potential impact on US healthcare.

For more related insights, visit the Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare’s webpage.

Impact of COVID-19 on behavioral health and potential contributing factors
We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at: McKinsey_Website_Accessibility@mckinsey.com

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