Accounting for the Mentality of Wellness in Healthcare Metrics
As we approach the holidays and give thanks for our blessings, we should keep in mind that this is a season well-known for prompting anxiety and depression among many people who need help. It might do us well to reflect, once again, on some of the healthcare market research that was so widely publicized during Mental Illness Awareness Week in early October.
Mental well-being should be an area of great interest for professionals at every level of our healthcare delivery system — whether you are a healthcare provider, hospital, insurance company, pharmacist, or retailer. More often than not, the well-being of a patient, member, or shopper affects both the healthcare decisions they make — when to see a physician or what type of insurance coverage to purchase — and their very ability to make decisions at all.
The Healthcare Consumer and Emotional Wellness
Many healthcare consumers in the general public regard these conditions as temporary, brought on by stressful situations like the holidays. With the negative connotations that surround mental wellness, many consider these conditions experienced by other people. Healthcare market research, however, shows a very different picture.
Statistics collected by the CDC and the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) show that depression and anxiety are not fringe conditions.
- More than 25 million Americans are diagnosed with major depression in any given year — nearly 8% of the entire population of the country.
- However, the CDC estimates that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression (both major depression and other forms).
- Roughly 40 million American adults over the age of 18, about 17% of the nation’s adult population, find their lives impacted by clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders.
- 52% of patients with anxiety also report having depression.
- Similarly, 59% of those individuals with depression report having anxiety, as well.
While anxiety and depression can affect any age or cultural group, our healthcare market research has shown certain statistics when it comes to self-reported mental well-being.
- Individuals who have self-reported depression or anxiety are up to 67% more likely to be unemployed than the general population.
- People who describe themselves as suffering from depression or anxiety are up to 44% more likely to be without health insurance.
- They’re likely to be less educated, as well — 20% less likely to have a college or post-graduate degree, and up to 40% more likely to have just a high school education or less.
Taken together, these two sets of data draw a very specific picture of the patient (or shopper) population most likely to develop anxiety or depression and the group most open to discussion of mental wellbeing.
- Direction Takers are +43% more likely than the general population to report having anxiety, and +71% more likely to have depression.
- Willful Endurers are +14% more likely than the general population to report anxiety or depression.
Each of these distinct patient populations, and the others indicated in our healthcare market research, have different motivations regarding health and wellness and thus require different healthcare strategies and messages to drive behavior change.
Tailoring the Message to the Consumer
Despite the prevalence of depression and anxiety and the growth in prescriptions to treat these conditions, many Americans are reluctant to address their mental health with a physician. Therefore, healthcare professionals must learn the correct strategies for speaking to a healthcare consuming public hesitant to address the topic of mental well-being.
Consumers who are affected by depression and anxiety cannot help but be aware of the issues that have such a profound impact on their lives, but there is a reluctance, especially among male patients, to be candid about mental health.
While speaking of mental wellness, healthcare professionals should speak not of health conditions, but to the individuals who have reported their condition. It is important to understand how their condition affects all aspects of the patient’s life and convey empathy in a dialogue that humanizes care.
If successful treatment is to be expected, healthcare professionals must adapt their healthcare strategies and communication to the patient population.