Out of the shadows, finally
Mental illness touches us all. It’s time to start talking about it.
I am the Founder and CEO of Quartet, a clinically-guided technology company that is improving access to needed mental health services by integrating the physical and mental health care worlds.
Virtually every one of us has witnessed the heartbreaking consequences of a healthcare system where mental health services have been kept in the shadows - disconnected, stigmatized, expensive, and spectacularly difficult to navigate. Improving access to care for those in need was the motivation for me to start Quartet.
Mental Health Month is all about eradicating the stigma associated with mental illness, a key piece of the puzzle. The growing number of high-profile voices speaking out about mental health - celebrities like Kristen Bell, First Lady Michelle Obama, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (who serves on Quartet’s Board of Directors), to name a few - underscores the fact that mental health is coming out of the shadows, finally.
An estimated one in five Americans lives with mental illness, and about two-thirds of them have co-occurring medical conditions. The consequences of failing to treat mental health issues are particularly disastrous for this group, who are seeing the healthcare system a lot yet rarely receiving effective treatment for their mental health conditions.
There has to be a better way. Mounting research tells us that goal-oriented treatment pathways delivered in collaboration between mental and physical health providers leads to dramatically better outcomes for patients. What’s more, many mental illnesses are treatable - not in years, but in months. In other words: mental illness is not a life sentence. Integrated care is taking hold as a movement - one to elevate the practice of behavioral medicine out of the shadows, and into the fabric of primary care as equal parts of the team.
Quartet was designed to meet those in need where they are. We do this by equipping primary care physicians with a host of resources for their patients, such as access to a curated and collaborative behavioral specialist network and convenient, technology-enabled care channels like telemedicine, online cognitive behavioral therapy, and asynchronous texting-based therapy. It’s a huge step forward toward improving access in an integrated fashion that addresses total health.
Over 50 million Americans live with mental illness - it is literally everywhere. It’s time to start thinking about it no differently than diabetes, heart disease, or any other chronic condition. To me and our growing band of collaborators at Quartet, it is a moral imperative that we put our best creative, engineering, product, clinical, data, etc. talents to work on increasing access to care for all those in need. We are constantly on the lookout for amazing team members, provider partners, and individuals who share our passion and sense of urgency around this work - if you are any of these, please connect with us: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter or Facebook.
This blog post was originally published on Medium on May 25, 2016.