In this guest column, Innovive Health CEO Joseph P. McDonough shares his thoughts on the critical role that home healthcare agencies can play in fixing America’s behavioral health system.

The American behavioral health system is irreparably broken and demands urgent action. People are struggling, and the wait time to get them help is backing up our healthcare systems, burning out our healthcare workers. In worst-case scenarios, it is causing widespread harm, as we have seen too often in mass shootings and other tragic acts stemming from untreated mental illnesses.

In many states, it’s impossible to access care at all because their Medicaid systems do not cover home health services for behavioral health or chronic care situations. Even in areas that have significant access to hospital-level services, there is still not enough access to aftercare for patients with behavioral illnesses who need it. For too long, it has simply not been a top priority. It is imperative for society, state Medicaid programs, and the federal government to do better.

Unfortunately, proposed solutions to the current crisis are often imprudent because they put too much focus on hospitals instead of communities. This approach does nothing to improve patient outcomes and often leads to overcrowding, with behavioral health patients stranded at hospitals because they simply have nowhere else to go.

Read more: The home (not the hospital) should be the hub for behavioral healthcare (