Evernorth adds pediatric mental health provider Brightline as an in-network benefit

Steven Loeb · March 2, 2023 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/565a

Brightline, which focuses on children, teens, and families, will reach over 60 million lives

The youth mental health crisis was already happening, and the COVID-19 pandemic just exposed it for many families, as incident rates spiked and then kept increasing even as the pandemic has waned: a recent analysis by Evernorth, the pharmacy, care and benefits solutions division of The Cigna Group, found that children and adolescents had seven times the rate of increase in suicide ideation compared to other age groups compared to other age groups, 21% versus an average of 3%, and six times the rate of increase in suicide attempts, 26% versus an average of 4%, from 2020 to 2021.

This isn't just affecting kids but their parents as well: research shows that 18% of working parents report that their teenager’s emotional state has a negative impact on their job performance and productivity, while 64% of parents report difficulty in finding a trusted behavioral health professional for their child. 

Brightline is a mental health solution built specifically to care for children, teenagers, and their families, providing virtual therapy, psychiatry, and coaching, including access to personalized support that allows families to chat with a mental health expert and schedule a video visit within days.

Now the company will expand its reach significantly thanks to a partnership with Evernorth, which will make it available as an in-network benefit to all Evernorth clients and the millions of families that are Cigna Healthcare customers. That means it will be able to reach over 60 million lives across all 50 states.

"In-network providers and employer health plans are the way most people use health care services. Since many families can’t afford expensive out-of-pocket cash payments, being in-network enables them to get the access they need at appropriate costs. By joining Evernorth, we’re able to support so many more families across the country to access the specialized care they need right now," Naomi Allen, CEO and co-founder of Brightline, told VatorNews.

"We are excited about this partnership to continue to grow our community of families and provide access to our expert network of coaches, therapists, psychiatrists, and other experts to families in need within the Evernorth and Cigna networks."

For Evernorth, adding Brightline to its list of behavioral health providers who treat children and teens means it can expand the options that parents have when their children need behavioral care, said Dr. Stuart Lustig, board-certified child psychiatrist and national medical executive for provider partnerships at Evernorth Health Services.

"With Brightline, we will be able to connect our youngest patients with care and treatment options quickly and efficiently, while providing peace of mind for the entire family. By joining our network – which includes both virtual and in-person providers –  Brightline helps us better meet the needs of families in need of mental health support for their children," he said.

Founded in 2019, Brightline uses a multidisciplinary care team, evidence-based programs, and a family-focused approach to achieve its mission, which is to deliver high-quality, accessible and affordable mental health care to families when and where they need it. 

Brightline provides families nationwide with expert virtual therapy, psychiatry, and coaching for children and teens, including fast access to personalized support that allows families to chat with a mental health expert and schedule a video visit within days. The company's coaching also allows families to address concerns before they become an acute condition.

This provides an opportunity for children and teens to develop skills and techniques that will help them stay resilient throughout their life, said Lustig.

"Coaching has been available to adults as a behavioral health treatment for some time, but to be able to offer this kind of treatment to children and teens will make a big difference for families in need of support," he explained.

"We also like the flexibility of Brightline’s model. If coaching is not enough, our customers can access direct clinical services when necessary, including pharmacology in cases when that may be needed for certain conditions."

Brightline not only evaluates and reports on the improvement of the children it serves, it also measure the stress of the parents. Quality measurements such as wait times are also evaluated on a regular basis. So far, it has found that 85% of children and teens see an improvement in their symptoms according to the Pediatric Symptom Checklist, and that 70% of caregivers see an improvement in their own stress using Brightline.

On top of that, Brightline has also been able to demonstrate the equal effectiveness of its care across families from diverse racial, ethnic, and gender identities, which is especially important because the youth mental health crisis is especially impacting teens who are female or identify as LGBTQ+, Allen explained.

"Measurement-based care is at the core of Brightline’s ethos. The effectiveness of mental health treatment can be a black box leading to tremendous waste in an already overburdened system," she said. 

Ultimately, Brightline’s mission is to provide access to the specialized behavioral health care that kids and families need in a cost-effective way.  

"Evernorth adding Brightline underscores the immense need there is for specialized care models for kids, teens and families. There is real demand for category leadership in this space and health plan leaders are seeing the importance of delivering innovative solutions to their insured members on ASO plans and fully insured," said Allen. 

For Evernorth, success means helping families and children get the support they need, quickly and efficiently, and offering care that meets the specific needs of the individual, Lustig said.

"Brightline allows us to offer more specialized care for teens and children. There are so many reasons why this care is necessary, especially coming out of the pandemic, because we know kids are struggling. They are struggling academically, they are struggling with loneliness and social isolation, and we know that families have struggled with job losses, separations and death in a way that we haven’t seen before," he said.

"Their experiences during the pandemic will have implications for years to come. Brightline is one way we are expanding our ability to connect children and youths who are struggling with mental health challenges with care and treatment options quickly and efficiently, while providing peace of mind for the entire family."

(Image source: hellobrightline.com)

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