Reflections From HLTH 2021: Mental Health

I’m lucky enough to attend Boston’s HLTH 2021 event and here’s a big shift I’ve noticed in the conference this year: mental health is front and center at the conference.

There are no less than a dozen mental health-related companies exhibiting at HLTH, from apps like Calm and Headspace, who have pivoted to:

  • corporate support systems
  • companies focused on ensuring the mental well being of front-line health workers
  • companies ensuring employees use those benefits.

Indeed, one of the main themes at HLTH is Assessing & Addressing Mental Health. This shift from health as a bodily-only focus – broken bones, chronic conditions, etc. – signifies the next evolution of mind-body connection.

Is the mental health wellness boom a function of the pandemic and people finally recognizing the previously hidden costs of mental health? Or is it a function of the new work-from-home professional culture, which amplifies loneliness and stress?

While it’s debatable what is driving the surge in awareness, I see a clear trend in the changing demographics in the workplace. The fact is that the U.S. population born from 1981 to 1996 (the Millennials) now comprises over 50% of the US workforce.

These Millennials are a much larger and younger population than Gen X, owing to the shift in population demographics. Indeed, Millennials are now receiving the majority of care under employer-sponsored health plans as they enter their prime working years. And studies have shown that Millennials care far more about their mental health than previous generations.

Payment models for mental health are shifting as employers reconsider their benefits. The mental health startups I met are well positioned to take advantage of this change.

How the industry will adapt to these changes is yet to be seen, but if HTLH is any indication, mental health and wellness will be firmly planted in the landscape of future health considerations.

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Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths is the GM of the Digital Healthcare Solutions unit at Perficient, where he works with hospital and health plan marketing departments on digital initiatives. DHS services integrated healthcare delivery systems around the United States.

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