June 2, 2020

Recap: Digital Solutions to Behavioral Health Barriers

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely upended our daily lives, not only our physical health but our mental health as well. COVID-19 has only escalated the prevalence of mental health conditions, which already affected 1 in 5 U.S. adults on average.

In the recent Mental Health Forum hosted by Pittsburgh Business Group on Health (PBGH), Castlight’s Regional Director, Mike Cook, shared how digital health solutions are helping to address common barriers to care. A survey conducted during this session explored employers’ concerns regarding behavioral health. Lack of awareness of available resources was the leading concern, followed by reducing stigma, access to care options, and mitigating cost of care.

Despite a 20% prevalence of behavioral health conditions among commercially-insured populations, employee assistance programs (EAP) have an average utilization of just 5%, and only 9% of U.S. adults saw a behavioral health professional last year. Further, we’ve seen no spike to date in EAP utilization related to COVID-19. Yet when asked, many individuals—1 in 4—want more behavioral health support from their benefits.

Solving this contradiction means addressing these four common barriers to care: awareness, access, stigma, and cost. Castlight identifies those individuals at risk for, or currently diagnosed with, a range of behavioral health conditions, increases their awareness of behavioral health resources, and navigates members to their care options. Members are provided personalized recommendations for care that delivers the highest quality for the lowest cost, including digital offerings that can reduce both stigma and access barriers. Let’s look more closely at how Castlight uniquely addresses each of these four blockers to pursuing care for behavioral health issues:


Castlight deploys industry-leading personalization via a comprehensive data set—claims, demographics, user goals, biometrics, and in-app activity— and predictive capabilities to understand which individuals are at-risk or diagnosed with a behavioral health condition. This allows targeted communication to ensure they are aware of the solutions available to them, including live outreach from a Castlight Care Guide who can provide human-led navigation and address anxiety or concerns.

Examples of at-risk segments include women who recently gave birth and are at-risk for postpartum depression and individuals with chronic conditions. Our claims data informs which individuals are at elevated risk, and enables us to provide them with helpful content, tools, or care recommendations.

Castlight also identifies individuals who may be at highest risk due to a combination of behavioral health diagnoses, lack of a primary care provider, or unnecessary ER utilization. These individuals in particular benefit from the personal assistance of Castlight Care Guides.


Wait times averaging 21 days for therapists and searching for in-network providers who are accepting new patients can create barriers to behavioral healthcare. Castlight increases access by guiding individuals to the right resources along a spectrum of support, the vast majority of which can be accessed digitally, removing key barriers to care. Virtual resiliency, mindfulness, meditation tools, and sleep management solutions are increasingly important resources as Americans avoid in-person visits due to COVID-19.

Additionally, primary care plays a significant role in medication management, so it’s important that primary care is integrated into behavioral health efforts. Castlight has developed a Smart Match algorithm to match individuals to the best suited providers for their unique needs; for those with depression and anxiety, Castlight promotes primary care physicians who have greater experience taking care of patients with these conditions.

Access also means ease of navigation to available resources. Castlight simplifies the search for behavioral health care by bringing many siloed resources into a single unified experience. With Castlight’s integrated provider directory, individuals can quickly and easily access results for primary care, hospitals, behavioral health providers, EAP providers, and telehealth services, and identify the most accessible option that meets their needs.


Stigma is an unfortunate reality, affecting 31% of individuals who worry that others will judge them for seeking mental health services. Yet with psychological and psychiatric care representing the fourth highest search term in Castlight, many individuals are actively seeking support.

Digital solutions offer a new format for accessing resources, enabling individuals to take the first step to engaging in their mental wellbeing. Offerings such computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) enable an evidence-based, self-care option for individuals. Digital resources are available across the spectrum–from mindfulness and meditation, to cCBT, to virtual appointments with a care provider–to meet each person’s needs.

Castlight Care Guides’ high touch service can prove invaluable in offering confidential support to help guide anxious individuals down the path of addressing their care needs– where to go, what resources are available, and how to access them.


Castlight’s data shows that the average cost for an individual with a mental health condition is $8,800—compared to $3,800 for those without one. Cost is a real concern for individuals, with 42% of the population seeing cost and poor insurance coverage as a barrier to care.

Castlight leverages the nearly 2.5 billion records powering our platform to help members find the lowest cost, highest-quality behavioral health providers. By integrating EAP providers into its directory, Castlight can navigate individuals to take advantage of free visits with an EAP provider—helping to address cost concerns while increasing awareness to these available resources. Additionally, Castlight makes evidence-based digital tools available that enable individuals to complete an effective course of therapy without the price tag of traditional therapy. Finally, Castlight guides individuals to virtual teletherapy solutions that can significantly reduce the cost of care compared to in person care.

These resources empower individuals to access the care they need. Castlight provides a guided experience that simplifies the complex system that many face in addressing their mental wellbeing and obtaining behavioral healthcare. During the current public health crisis and beyond, Castlight remains committed to our mission to help people navigate the complex healthcare system to make better-informed decisions and unlock a better experience.

For more information on Castlight’s behavioral health solution, watch our recent session from the PBGH Mental Health Forum, and reach out to [email protected] for more information.

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