The United States is at a time of promise for historic transformation in mental health care. Can the healthcare industry harness this opportunity to come together on behalf of those in need?
America’s mental health has been struggling in recent years, and millions of Americans, including many healthcare professionals on the front line of battling the illness, continue to grapple with the mental health challenges arising from the pandemic. However, our current mental health system is not set up to serve those who need the most help. Recent research released by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, The Economic Burden of the Mental Health Inequities in the United States Report, demonstrated tangible evidence for the first time that investing in mental healthcare directly contributes to saving lives and dollars.
The clarion call to remedy these issues is clear and urgently sounding. The real question is how bold the healthcare industry can be in driving and sustaining systemic change that addresses the challenges. One healthcare company chooses to view this as a positive opportunity to bring forward transformation on behalf of those living with mental illness. Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., a leader in mental healthcare, poses a thought-provoking viewpoint meant to encourage radical changes across spectrum of care: What if the world valued every mind? They assert that decisive and transformative change to the U.S. mental health landscape is possible if politicians, public administrators, advocates, and policy experts coalesce around a focused set of objectives.
Evolving the Perception of Mental Illness as a Chronic Disease
Diagnosed patients have long faced a lack of parity in treatment and resourcing for serious mental illness, when contrasted with other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Otsuka takes the transformational viewpoint that mental illness is chronic, not an acute or temporary condition. This perspective leads the organization to work across the spectrum of care as they promote decisive and transformative change to the U.S. mental health landscape in an effort to improve the lives of the millions of Americans living with mental illness.
The organization is committed to igniting conversations that will help every stakeholder fully appreciate that mental illness is a chronic, not acute, or temporary condition, and should be resourced and treated as such by policymakers and all stakeholders in the mental health community.
A Focus on Funding Innovation
Considering the global shortage of mental health professionals, the barriers to care faced by millions, and the sub-optimal responses to treatments experienced by patients, it is critical to explore new and novel approaches to expanding access. Despite a large industry exodus from this area for many years, Otsuka has been committed to providing new products that contribute to patients worldwide in the field of neuropsychiatry.
In mental health, there are no breakthroughs or silver bullets that will be available any time soon. Rather, there will be—much like in oncology—modest incremental advances that will build one on top of the other to deliver improved outcomes to a larger and larger populations.
“As an innovative pharmaceutical company, we know we cannot achieve this as one organization. We must look beyond our own clinical pipelines to collaborate with others who may bring entirely new expertise and mindsets to the table.” – Tarek Rabah, President & CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business
A Modern Take on Patient Centricity
Engaged, informed patients proactively want to participate in the decision-making process. To elevate their voices, Otsuka employs Patient Education Liaisons to help those in need navigate finding help and resources. These professionals help fill in the gaps by answering patient and caregiver questions, connecting them to local resources, and, with their consent, interacting with healthcare providers on their behalf.
Despite staggering instances of mental health struggles, the majority of those in need of assistance go untreated. Once people decide to seek care for a mental health problem, services that they value and want to access should be available to them in their community without undue financial burden. However, this is seldom the case, and communities are ill-equipped to provide a well-coordinated response of appropriate, accessible, and affordable services. Patient Education Liaisons help support a level of care that corresponds to their level of need.
“At Otsuka, patient-centricity is more than just a term—it’s a foundation for all we do. The healthcare industry has a responsibility to unite in creating a better world for those we serve.” – Sanket Shah, Vice President Digital Health, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Otsuka is committed to leading the industry’s shift toward patient-centric care, wherever they are and whenever needed, whether at a physician’s office, urgent care clinic, in the home, or on the road.
If there is a single truth to overcoming the mental health challenges that America faces, it is that no one entity can do it alone.
As Otsuka demonstrates, the pharmaceutical industry must endeavor to be bridge-builders across a wide spectrum of stakeholders to help create the change that is so desperately needed to ensure people receive the help they deserve.
With a collective commitment across the industry on empowering patients and ensuring their involvement, society will see advancements in healthcare that further equity in care, address barriers to access and enable the launch of innovative treatments that offer renewed hope for those living with mental illness. A world where every mind is valued.