Transforming Care and Improving Access: The Path Forward for Mental Health & Substance Use

The Challenge

  • Over the past decade, inadequate mental health and substance use care has grown into a public health crisis, with suicides and drug-related deaths at record levels.
  • In Florida, approximately 660,000 adults and 181,000 children live with serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder, severe depression or schizophrenia, and nearly half of the population will struggle with less devastating forms at some point in their lives. — National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Orlando
  • When it comes to accessing mental health care professionals like psychologists and therapists, Florida ranks 44th out of 50 states. — State of Mental Health in America, 2018
  • Continually rising healthcare costs have pushed many Floridians into plans that cover less and cost more with limited access and availability to mental health services and support, including early detection and appropriate treatment.

The Solution: The Path Forward for Mental Health & Substance Use in Florida

The Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value has been selected to lead efforts in Florida to improve mental health and substance use treatment. This is part of a national transformative initiative called The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use led by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) Center for Workplace Mental Health, The American Health Policy Institute, the HR Policy Association, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, The Bowen Foundation, and The JED Foundation.

Our efforts are focused on achieving measurable improvements in five priority areas:

  • Increasing capacity and improving access to “in-network” behavioral health specialists
  • Expanding use of the collaborative care model to integrate behavioral health into primary care
  • Implementing measurement-based care in both primary care and behavioral specialty care to improve quality and outcomes
  • Expanding tele-behavioral health
  • Ensuring mental health parity compliance

The Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value is leading one of eight Regional Employer-Stakeholder Engagement Teams (RESET) in the US focused on these reform efforts. We are leveraging the influence of our employer and healthcare purchaser members to work with Florida’s health plans, medical and behavioral groups, consultants and brokers to transform the current system and achieve meaningful outcomes.

The eight RESET regions and coalitions leading the efforts are:

  • California – Purchaser Business Group on Health and Silicon Valley Employers Forum
  • Florida – Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value
  • Kansas – Kansas Business Group on Health
  • Maryland, District of Columbia and Northern Virginia – MidAtlantic Business Group on Health 
  • Minnesota – Minnesota Health Leadership Council
  • New York City metro area including northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut – Northeast Business Group on Health
  • Tennessee – Memphis Business Group on Health and HealthCare 21 Business Coalition
  • Texas – Dallas Fort Worth Business Group on Health and Houston Business Coalition on Health


To learn more about the Path Forward, click here.

Our Path Forward Initiatives

Now that employees have discovered the convenience and confidentiality of telehealth, employers are including telehealth providers in their benefit plans and searching for guidance, particularly related to tele-behavioral health. The Employer Guide to Tele-Behavioral Health Care (updated October 2022), developed by the Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value, is designed to help employers understand the attributes of high quality, cost effective tele-behavioral health providers as they make their program selections. This Guide will be updated periodically based on new information and feedback.

Additional Resources for Employers

The Path Forward for Mental Health & Substance Use hosted a webinar to give an update on its progress and to outline recent actions by the Department of Labor on Strengthening the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) to improve access to affordable mental health care.

This brief examines the state of tele-behavioral health (TBH) in the U.S. before the COVID-19 pandemic, how TBH policies and practices changed in response to it, the opportunity TBH presents to improve access to care, and the barriers that TBH has faced.

The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use recommends a two-tier strategy for emotional health and wellbeing preparedness in the face of the “second wave” of COVID-19.

Given the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis, a call for all mental health advocates to move beyond “best practices in mental health integration with primary care” and focus on the the Collaborative Care Model in their proposals and recommendation.

The Center for Workplace Mental Health, part of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, offers a number of additional resources for employers.


If you have questions or are interested in sponsoring this program, please contact Karen van Caulil, PhD.