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As Mental Health Needs Continue To Rise, So Do Innovative Virtual Services

Published Date: Nov 28, 2022

The increase in the number of people experiencing mental health issues since the COVID-19 public health emergency is fueling fast-paced innovations and solutions in virtual behavioral health care. Health care professionals and Horizon Behavioral Health℠ are meeting the demand by developing and offering a range of online services and technology-enabled solutions. These include virtual therapy and self-help apps.

“Sometimes people feel more comfortable reaching out virtually and getting the mental health care they need,” said Suzanne Kunis, Vice President of Horizon Behavioral Health.

It's not always convenient to see a doctor or other health care professional in person. Horizon Behavioral Health offers innovative virtual solutions that complement our existing network of behavioral health specialists.

Specialties that are offered virtually include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment
  • SUD and mental health treatment for first responders, military service members and veterans
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Peer support

“We are constantly researching and evaluating new entrants to the market for potential collaboration,” Kunis said.

Read more about three behavioral health providers who recently joined Horizon's network and offer virtual solutions:

Headway – Support for Health Care Professionals to Increase Access to Care

With a software-based network of virtual and in-person behavioral health care professionals, Headway joined Horizon's network in September 2021.

Using the Headway platform, people can find therapists in their health plan network who meet their preferences, including specialties, gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ and more. They can even book and manage their appointments online.

Our relationship with Headway has yielded more than 800 providers to our network who practice in New Jersey. Still others practice in the New York contiguous county area. Approximately 70 percent of that is new network capacity, as evidenced by the volume of members accessing services. Within the first 10 months, Headway providers have treated more than 8,100 Horizon members and completed nearly 71,000 Horizon member appointments. The average speed to first appointment is 4.9 days.

NOCD – Specialized Care for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)

Virtual technologies help providers offer highly specialized treatment for complex behavioral conditions. NOCD (pronounced No C-D) provides virtual support by clinicians trained in Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), the most effective treatment available for people with OCD. ERP has been clinically proven to reduce OCD symptoms and can help people with OCD improve their quality of life.

Therapists can work virtually with members from anywhere, including directly in the environments that trigger their obsessional thoughts, images or urges. This makes treatment extremely powerful. Additionally, members use the NOCD app in between therapy sessions to learn to manage their OCD behaviors. When they are on their own, they can also receive always-on support from peer communities, self-help therapeutic tools, online support groups, therapist and advocate messaging, and more.

With NOCD, patients get access to care faster than through traditional means.

“It can take years for people with OCD to get appropriate treatment because there's a lack of providers who are trained in ERP, an evidence-based treatment,” said Rachel Goldberg, Director, Horizon Behavioral Health Client Partnerships and Product Development. “Our collaboration with NOCD helps to make sure members get the best care for their conditions.”

NOCD joined Horizon's network in April 2020 and treats approximately 40 new members per quarter. NOCD treatment is approximately 50 percent more efficient than the national comparison for outpatient services.

Equip – Helping Children and Adolescents With Eating Disorders (ED)

Equip delivers virtual eating disorder treatment to young people ages 6 to 24. During the COVID-19 pandemic, eating disorders spiked by 70 percent according to NEDA and hospitalizations for eating disorders doubled for this age group.

During the first 16 weeks of treatment, Horizon members receiving Equip treatment were well on their way to recovery. Seven out of 10 members showed decreased eating disorder symptoms, 75 percent reported improved mood, and three out of four caregivers felt more confident caring for their loved one.

Equip provides evidence-based care, based on Family-Based Treatment (FBT), that integrates into a patient's everyday life. It ensures that each patient has a five-person care team including a therapist, physician, peer mentor, family mentor and dietitian. FBT is a treatment method that empowers families to help loved ones overcome their eating disorders. By partnering with Horizon, Equip can provide members continuity of care for an additional year of treatment. Equip has no waitlist.

Integrating Care for Your Patients

Our Horizon Behavioral Health Program can collaborate with you to:

  • Help navigate your patients' care. We will help find the right health care professionals and resources — either digitally, virtually or in person — to address their unique behavioral health needs, even in a crisis. Horizon Behavioral Health has a network of more than 8,400 providers (as of March 1, 2022) who offer a full range of mental health and SUD services.

  • Access specialized clinical expertise. Our experienced team of psychiatric medical directors, psychologists and behavioral health clinicians will provide oversight of Care Management Programs that can help your patients manage their end-to-end care.

  • Connect behavioral health care with primary health care and social needs. Our Integrated System of Care (ISC) Program is a specialized program for Horizon members with serious mental illness (SMI) and/or Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The ISC Program emphasizes the integration of medical, behavioral and social services to improve clinical outcomes. For more information, contact the ISC team at 1-844-281-8924 or

We Are Here to Help

Our dedicated Horizon Behavioral Health team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To learn more about how our Behavioral Health Program can assist your practice with providing behavioral health care to your patients, call 1-800-626-2212.