The link between mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, and physical chronic diseases can affect multiple domains1 of an individual’s health, including financial health, symptom management 2 and overall quality of life. Managing a mental health condition can take additional time and energy away from individuals with chronic diseases working to manage their health and quality of life. For example, individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely 3 to experience depressive symptoms than the general population, and they often deal with additional challenges 4 in managing both conditions, such as stabilizing blood glucose levels and adhering to multiple treatment plans at the same time.
In order to proactively support populations experiencing both mental and physical chronic conditions, it’s essential to identify options that enable patients to successfully manage their chronic conditions. Studies have shown supportive care extensions, like digital health coaching5, can empower individuals to seek out care that addresses their mental health needs in a safe yet confidential manner, while also providing support for physical health conditions.
To further understand this potential, Pack Health researchers examined whether its condition-specific programs improved the long-term mental health of its members post-participation. Members enrolled across Pack Health programs are provided with many resources to help assess their mental health needs while working to improve their overall health outcomes, including physical health. Members and their Health Advisors communicate weekly via email, text, or phone to discuss goal setting, condition-specific resources, and support. Pack Health Advisors are trained in Mental Health First Aid 6 to assist members with managing and assessing their personalized mental health needs.
Members’ mental health-related data, such as anxiety scores, stress scores, and depression scores, were assessed to evaluate mental health status. Changes in overall health outcomes, including weekly exercise minutes, sleep, and nutrition were also measured to understand if a program focused on mental health also resulted in changes to physical health behaviors.
At month 12:
- 83% of members with a high risk of stress lowered their risk. The average member of this group increased their healthy eating scores by 13%.
- 90% of members with a high risk of anxiety lowered their risk. The average member of this group increased their healthy eating scores by 17%.
- 81% of members with a high risk of depression lowered their risk. The average member of this group increased their healthy eating scores by over 7%.
These results demonstrate the impact of Pack Health’s condition-specific programs on how these members continue to manage and fulfill their mental health needs upon completing their programs, as well as the association with physical health behavior improvements. These members effectively utilized the resources and support given to them during their time with Pack Health to continue reaching more of their health goals.
“Mental health needs should be prioritized within chronic condition management. While observing the physical needs of individuals has been effective, we can’t possibly understand the full picture of patient health unless we’re including mental health,” says Stephen Burton, MS, Director of Data and Outcomes at Pack Health, a Quest Diagnostics Company. “By providing resources and support to members seeking to better their mental health, we are equipping them to be confident in understanding and managing their needs once they are finished with their program.”
Article updated 9/11/2023
- Behavioral Health and Physical Comorbidities: Comprehensive Digital Health Coaching for Improved Behavioral Health. Pack Health. Published July 2020. Accessed June 13, 2022.
- Almeida SS, Zizzi FB, Cattaneo A, et al. Management and treatment of patients with major depressive disorder and chronic diseases: A multidisciplinary approach. Front Psychol. 2020;11:542444. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.542444
- Diabetes and mental health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 7, 2021. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/mental-health.html
- Patel V, Chatterji S. Integrating mental health in care for noncommunicable diseases: An imperative for person-centered care. Health Aff (Millwood). 2015;34(9):1498-1505. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0791
- Blumenfield S, Levin-Scherz J. Digital tools are revolutionizing mental health care in the U.S. Harvard Business Review. December 3, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://hbr.org/2020/12/digital-tools-are-revolutionizing-mental-health-care-in-the-u-s
- Preparing to Support Mental Health with Mental Health First Aid Training. Pack Health. Published May 17, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://packhealth.com/news-mental-health-first-aid/
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Pack Health is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice provided by a person’s treating healthcare provider and is not intended to practice medicine. Pack Health is intended to be an aid for people to gain insights into ways to help improve their general health and well-being.
Only a person’s healthcare provider should diagnose and treat their patients based on the provider’s clinical assessment, education, and training. This service should not be used as a substitute for a person’s healthcare provider.