What Administrators Need to Know about Mental Healthcare

Many health institutions focus primarily on physical healthcare — and of course there are many diseases with predominantly physical symptoms for which people need care. However, there is also a whole set of illnesses that have much more to do with the mind than the physical body. As a healthcare administrator you’ll be expected to be as literate at discussing administrative issues related to mental health as you will be for primarily physical illnesses.

buddha-buddhism-statue-religion-46177-400Variety of mental illnesses

“Mental illness” is a broad term when it comes to describing the variety of disorders with which healthcare professionals assist. In reality, this mental illness can be divided into a variety of subtypes. Here are three of the main categories:

  • Anxiety disorders: Everyone deals with some level of anxiety from time to time, but when anxiety becomes strong enough or persistent enough to interfere with daily functioning, it may have tipped into the category of a disorder. Anxiety disorders can manifest in many variants, from generalized anxiety to specific phobias.
  • Mood disorders: This set of disorders is exactly what it sounds like — mental health issues involving the patient’s mood. Mood disorders can also be known as affective disorders, and they include depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Psychotic disorders: Distorted thinking is the main marker of psychotic disorders. The patient may see, hear, or believe things that others would perceive to not be real or true.

In addition to base mental health conditions, some patients have a dual diagnosis situation, which means they have both an existing mental health issue as well as a substance abuse problem that compounds the person’s challenges.

Why mental healthcare is essential

There are many reasons why adequate access to mental healthcare is important for patients. Most obviously, mental health is important for maintaining a high quality of life, regardless of one’s background. With positive mental health people are better able to support their personal goals and grow toward their highest potential.

However, there is also evidence that access to adequate mental health care is actually a cost-saving measure for the healthcare system. Researchers once looked at a set of patients with anxiety disorders, and found that with adequate mental health treatment their overall treatment costs went down by 35 percent. Good mental health is also associated with higher employee productivity and performance in the workplace.

Billing process

Surprisingly, billing situations are sometimes different for mental health issues compared to other medical billing. While a large number of medical doctors see patients within an institution that has a large administrative staff to handle claims, that is not always the case with mental healthcare.

Additionally, administrators who handle billing for mental healthcare may have to deal with time management issues, as there can be a variety of codes to use and departments to connect with at each health insurance provider in order to get reimbursed for mental health treatment. Patient insurance status can change rapidly as they switch jobs or change coverage for other reasons.

With some practice and understanding of how mental healthcare and mental healthcare billing work, you can be as effective an administrator dealing with these health issues as you would be with other medical concerns.