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Insights and Trends

Enhancing Behavioral Health Access to Meet the Growing Opportunity in Urban Communities

In addition to the unique challenges and opportunities occurring in local communities, urban communities have their own hurdles to overcome in order to improve the access and overall quality of behavioral health services to its members.

The Challenges

Today, more than 50% of the global population is living in cities, and by 2050 this rate is expected to increase to nearly 70%.1 As more individuals migrate to urban communities, the risk of developing a mental or behavioral health illness rises. This sense of over-population leads to crowded emergency rooms and mental health treatment centers – impeding an individual’s ability to receive high-quality services.

Although urban areas maintain a reputation of greater access to services and resources, disadvantaged individuals still struggle to obtain care due to financial and transportation limitations and the disproportionate availability of resources in various neighborhoods. This can lead to a self-reinforcing cycle where certain areas with higher rates of poverty and mental illness produce greater social disorder and crime, further increasing mental illness risk.

The Opportunities

By utilizing existing behavioral health services and elevating them to help ensure they are easily accessible to individuals in every neighborhood, health systems can address the many challenges within urban landscapes.

Steps to improve access and education for behavioral healthcare include:

  • Understanding neighborhood demographics that could impact access critical behavioral healthcare.
  • Providing quality resources through staff training and education around behavioral health, in addition to hiring qualified psychologists and therapists.
  • Behavioral health education through the integration of behavioral health programming into a primary care setting.

Through these steps, health systems can better identify proven strategies to meet the opportunity. Partnership is one specific strategy that has proven beneficial to health systems. Being able to rely on a trusted and experienced partner for behavioral health service needs alleviates the burden of successfully integrating or optimizing a behavioral health hospital or unit independently.

Read our white paper, Behavioral Health: Expanding Needed Access Across Communities to learn how we can help your hospital address challenges and improve access to vital behavioral health treatment in both local and urban community settings.


  1. Gruebner, O., Rapp, M. A., Adli, M., Kluge, U., Galea, S., & Heinz, A. (2017, February 24). Cities and Mental Health. Deutsches Arzteblatt international.