The digital mental health market has been growing rapidly even before COVID-19. Stress and anxiety, caused by the pandemic, accelerated demand for virtual behavioural health services. Furthermore, the health crisis has created particularly high barriers to accessing care, with short- and long-term implications. Both, those at risk of developing a mental health disorder for the first time as well as those with an existing disorder that is threatening to deteriorate, are severely affected. Those circumstances create an environment in which digital mental health solutions are able to thrive and improve the access to care. As a result, the digital mental health market is booming. But what is the relevance for the mental health landscape when the digital mental health market is gaining traction?
What return do you get for every $1 invested in the digital mental health market?
The economic case for investment in mental health is strong: for every $1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety, there is a $4 return in better health and productivity. But still: “When it comes to mental health, all countries can be thought of as developing countries” as stated in 2018 by the Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development. The much-needed investment and transformation of mental health was not addressed over the past years and is now needed more than ever. The Lancet Global Health observes a “[…] clustering of multiple social determinants of mental health—fear and anxiety about COVID-19, emotional distress resulting from illness, bereavement, unemployment, income loss, and loneliness due to social isolation—all interacting, and generating or exacerbating mental health problems at a global scale”.
Overall, the various challenges highlight the need for innovative solutions which are provided by the digital mental health market.
The historic underinvestment in mental health
In May 2020, the UN policy brief COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health outlined the extent of this development: “This historic underinvestment in mental health needs to be redressed without delay to reduce immense suffering among hundreds of millions of people and mitigate long-term social and economic costs to society.”
Although the psychological burden of the pandemic is already apparent, the long-term effects will be even more profound. It is not a question of “if” but “when” health systems will be faced with widespread demand to address these COVID-19-related mental health needs.
In Germany, health insurance data indicated even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic a significant increase in diagnoses, treatments, and sick days due to mental illness over the past 20 years. The increasing demand for behavioural health treatment and mental health services paves the way for a growing digital mental health market.
Digital mental health is a rapidly growing billion-dollar market
The global behavioural health market is expected to reach a value of around US$ 242 billion by 2027 from an estimated US$ 140.01 billion in 2019. In addition, the global digital health market is poised to grow to US$ 500 billion by 2025 from an estimated US$ 106 billion in 2019.
Increased awareness and social acceptance of mental health problems will provide favourable market opportunities which will be driven by digital mental health services, such as online consulting or digitised cognitive behavioural therapy offerings.
Due to different definitions and the market complexity of behavioural health and digital mental health, the predictions of market analysts vary for the ‘compound annual growth rate’ (CAGR) as well as for the market size. The CAGR is the rate of return that would be required for an investment to grow from its beginning balance to its ending balance, assuming the profits were reinvested at the end of each year of the investment’s lifespan.
Overall, the digital health market, including digital mental health, benefits from the rapidly growing healthcare IT infrastructure in developed and developing countries which will boost the market expansion. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital healthcare and highlighted the significant advantages of digital health: Making healthcare more accessible, affordable and effective.
Hence, it is not surprising that the digital mental health market size will further grow over the next few years.
Digital mental health is here to stay and its transformation of the mental health landscape is inevitable. The potential to provide personalised and effective mental health support for the individual and to improve the existing mental healthcare services in countries around the world with scalable and accessible digital health solutions can not be ignored.
We hope that this article was insightful for you! We will be sharing each of our articles on our LinkedIn page to further engage with the HelloBetter community. Hence, we invite you to share your perspective on this topic and post your experiences in the LinkedIn comments.
We are looking forward to exploring with you how digital mental health solutions will redefine the future of care.
HelloBetter is a global pioneer in the field of digital mental health. No other provider worldwide has conducted as many clinical studies on the effectiveness of its online mental health courses. With our unrivalled scientific expertise (30+ RCTs) and passion for supporting people with mental health problems, we have already helped tens of thousands of patients to lead better lives. Find out more about HelloBetter on our Company page.
With HelloBetter Insights we want to share our learnings and analysis with the broader mental healthcare community. Every week, we will survey the ecosystem, report on promising developments, but also highlight the tough challenges that the industry is facing.