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Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health

Behavioral health focuses on how various behaviors such as eating habits, physical activity, drinking, and use of drugs and substances impact the individual’s physical, mental, spiritual, and mental health. The United States is currently experiencing a spike in mental and behavioral health issues related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, such as social distancing (Kämpfen et al., 2020). The current high inflation has also exacerbated the existing mental health crisis and added new behavioral health issues across society.

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Impact of Behavioral Health Crisis on the U.S Healthcare Delivery System

The current prevalence of behavioral and mental health issues in the U.S. is quite high. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI (2022), it is estimated a fifth of adults in the U.S. are prone to mental health issues each year, and one out of 20 are at risk of severe mental health disorders. Additionally, 50 and 75 percent of long-term mental and behavioral health issues start at 14 to 24, respectively. The high prevalence of mental and behavioral health issues has burdened the economy and the healthcare delivery system.

The high demand for behavioral health services has created an artificial shortage of trained mental health professionals, pushing the health care delivery system to utilize non-specialty providers. According to a study by (2019), around 51 percent of behavioral healthcare provided in hospitals is not specialty-specific. The increase in behavioral and mental health issues has greatly overburdened the current care delivery systems. The U.S. healthcare delivery system has an estimated 25,000 specialty psychiatrists compared to the over 40 million people in the U.S. in need of behavioral healthcare (, 2019). The lack of specialty care means the healthcare delivery system is not able to sustain the demand for care and the needs of the patient population. This is a barrier to achieving significant development toward achieving positive outcomes in behavioral health management.

Behavioral health issues create price discrimination within the healthcare system. People with comorbid behavioral health issues spend more on healthcare in managing a similar condition than those without. For instance, studies have established that the cost of care for chronic diseases such as diabetes was higher for patients with mental health conditions such as depression (Sporinova et al., 2019). Besides this, behavioral health care is estimated to cost the U.S. economy an estimated 900 billion dollars per year. The current economic and post-COVID climate is expected to push health expenditure on behavioral healthcare higher.

Problems Associated with Behavioral Health Issues

Behavioral health issues are associated with negative social and physical health consequences. Behavioral health issues are linked to an increased inclination towards criminal activity, drugs and substance abuse, and engagement in defiant behaviors such as risky sexual behaviors. The behavioral and mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic have indicated a substantial increase in drug and substance use (Horigian et al., 2021). The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (2022) estimates that over 32.1% of adults with mental health issues in the U.S. have a comorbid substance and drug use disorder.

Human behavior is a factor in developing social relationships (Kanter et al., 2018). People with behavioral health issues may find it hard to develop strong social bonds. Additionally, behavioral health issues may cause the patients to act impulsively, making them prone to self-harm or causing harm to others. Behavioral health issues are related to the increased prevalence of suicide across the U.S, especially firearm-related suicide (Goldstein et al., 2019). Suicide remains to be the second-leading cause of death in the U.S among the population aged 10-14 (National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 2022).

There are several Factors affecting mental health, such as adverse childhood experiences. (ACEs), these experiences may impact the success of students at school (Crouch et al., 2019). Most students with mental health issues such as depression are more likely to drop out of school than their peers without behavioral health issues (National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 2022). Additionally, students with mental, emotional, and behavioral health concerns have a higher rate of repeating grades as compared to their peers.

People with behavioral health issues have higher patient access barriers and are less likely to seek health care for other diseases (Aguirre Velasco et al., 2020). Additionally, behavioral health disorders are a leading cause of mental and physical impairment across the U.S population.

American Hospital Association (AHA) and Stakeholder Efforts to Address Behavioral Health Issues

The AHA has prioritized strategies to manage behavioral health issues during and post-COVID pandemic and during the related economic shocks. These strategic priorities focus on relieving, recovering, and rebuilding the post-pandemic healthcare delivery system to encompass mental and behavioural health care. The focus of these strategic efforts is on building a resilient healthcare workforce with a sufficient supply of specialty care experts, improving healthcare equity and accessibility, and the management of behavioral health post-pandemic. Through these behavioral health strategic efforts, the AHA has aimed at integrating physical and behavioral health services in all levels of care, establishing community-based initiatives for behavioral health, promoting awareness and reducing stigmatization, and reducing suicide rates and suicidal ideation.


Using big data and advanced analytics is recommended as a strategy to help manage behavioral health issues. The use of data and advanced analytics can help create a better picture of the state of behavioral health in the U.S and support better treatment planning and prevention targeting through the prediction of at-risk populations. The data can be used to identify individuals and plan for patient-centered prevention and treatment strategies. Big data and advanced analytics supported by digital technology potentially facilitate mental health management by supporting the development of personalized interventions with more reach, uptake, and social engagement (Taylor et al., 2020). Additionally, enriched big data can support digital phenotyping of mental health and improve diagnosis (Liang et al., 2019).


Aguirre Velasco, A., Cruz, I. S. S., Billings, J., Jimenez, M., & Rowe, S. (2020). What are the barriers, facilitators and interventions targeting help-seeking behaviors for common mental health problems in adolescents? A systematic review. BMC Psychiatry 2020 20:1, 20(1), 1–22.

Crouch, E., Radcliff, E., Hung, P., & Bennett, K. (2019). Challenges to School Success and the Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Academic Pediatrics, 19(8), 899–907.

Goldstein, E. v., Prater, L. C., & Wickizer, T. M. (2019). Behavioral Health Care And Firearm Suicide: Do States With Greater Treatment Capacity Have Lower Suicide Rates? Https://Doi.Org/10.1377/Hlthaff.2019.00753, 38(10), 1711–1718.

Horigian, V. E., Schmidt, R. D., & Feaster, D. J. (2021). Loneliness, Mental Health, and Substance Use among US Young Adults during COVID-19. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 53(1), 1–9. (2019, August 9). Key challenges faced in Behavioral and Mental Healthcare – iPatientCare.

Kämpfen, F., Kohler, I. v., Ciancio, A., de Bruin, W. B., Maurer, J., & Kohler, H. P. (2020). Predictors of mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.: Role of economic concerns, health worries, and social distancing. PLOS ONE, 15(11), e0241895.

Kanter, J. W., Kuczynski, A. M., Tsai, M., & Kohlenberg, R. J. (2018). A brief contextual behavioral intervention to improve relationships: A randomized trial. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 10, 75–84.

Liang, Y., Zheng, X., & Zeng, D. D. (2019). A survey on big data-driven digital phenotyping of mental health. Information Fusion, 52, 290–307.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2022). Mental Health By the Numbers.

Sporinova, B., Manns, B., Tonelli, M., Hemmelgarn, B., Macmaster, F., Mitchell, N., Au, F., Ma, Z., Weaver, R., & Quinn, A. (2019). Association of Mental Health Disorders With Health Care Utilization and Costs Among Adults With Chronic Disease. JAMA Network Open, 2(8), e199910–e199910.

Taylor, C. B., Ruzek, J. I., Fitzsimmons-Craft, E. E., Sadeh-Sharvit, S., Topooco, N., Weissman, R. S., Eisenberg, D., Mohr, D., Graham, A., Jacobi, C., & Oldenburg, B. (2020). Using Digital Technology to Reduce the Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in Populations: Time for a New Approach. J Med Internet Res 2020;22(7):E17493 Https://Www.Jmir.Org/2020/7/E17493, 22(7), e17493.


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Go to the website for the American Hospital Association (AHA) at the following web address: http://www.aha.orgLinks to an external site.

Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health

Click on ” Advocacy”-‘Issues for you that is at the top right of the page. Under this area, there are 12 categories being addressed by the AHA, with several topics under each category (e.g., access to hospitals, long-term care & rehabilitation, etc.). Choose one of these topics and complete a 3-4 page paper related to why this is an issue and how it impacts the U.S. healthcare delivery system. Describe the problems associated with the issue and what is being done by the AHA and other stakeholder groups to address it. Finally, choose one recommendation that you believe would be most effective in resolving the issue. Justify your recommendations and be as specific as possible.

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