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Aetna launches specialty provider network to prevent suicide

June 21, 2021 | Health Insurance

A woman sits at her kitchen counter with her breakfast to scroll on her cell phone.

Over the last year, Aetna, a CVS Health® company, has been implementing a comprehensive strategy to reduce suicide attempts 20 percent among Aetna members by the year 2025. With the right intervention and support, resources and management of suicidal thoughts, suicide is known to be preventable. In fact, 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental health condition.

This month, Aetna is launching its latest initiative — the development of a specialty provider network with a sole focus on suicide prevention in collaboration with Psych Hub, the world’s most comprehensive platform for mental health education. The joint effort will further arm Aetna practitioners with no-cost, evidence-based instruction, tools, and resources to identify and treat those at risk of suicide.

"Behavioral health providers are uniquely positioned to have a meaningful impact on the mental wellbeing of not just Aetna members, but our entire community,” said Cara McNulty, DPA, President, Aetna Behavioral Health. “As part of our steadfast commitment to suicide reduction and prevention, I’m excited that we are expanding our efforts to work more closely with providers and better support them in intervening successfully for those at risk of suicide.”

Through this collaboration, 283,000 behavioral health and employee assistance program providers in Aetna’s network, as well as Aetna’s internal clinicians, will have access to an evidence-based curriculum Aetna co-designed with Psych Hub. CVS Health licensed clinical social workers, who provide counseling and other mental health services at MinuteClinic in select HealthHUB locations, also have access to the training.

The program features a series of eLearning courses created by Psych Hub in partnership with leading experts at Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University. A provider receives certification in suicide prevention after completing all the courses and submitting a case study assignment. Psych Hub’ s unique approach to learning uses expert instruction and role play, scenario-based planning, video instruction, and access to resources and homework tools for patients. Courses are eligible for Continuing Education (CE) credits.

“Our industry must leverage innovations that make healthcare education accessible to providers on the front lines combating the global mental health and addiction crisis,” said Marjorie Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Psych Hub. “Nowhere is there a greater need than in suicide prevention, and we are honored to collaborate with Aetna to support their care providers and ultimately, save lives.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,000 people in 2019. It is also the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.

In addition to this network, Aetna uses suicide prevention screening and safety planning for all members seen by clinical staff, even if they are not presenting as “at risk” and offers several specialty suicide risk-reducing evidence-based programs as available outpatient resources. Aetna also continues to be the only health insurer to send caring contact postcards to “touch base” with members who have been discharged from an inpatient stay after a suicide attempt with messaging to let them know that they are valued, and that support and resources are available to them.