The large-scale disruption that is occurring in the lives of children will likely last through 2021. Consequently, there is a great deal of professional concern over the short-term and long-term impact of isolation in children who are being kept from a formative environment such as school. Children with pre-existing behavioral health concerns are living with far more symptoms than before the pandemic, and many children who were once typically developing are experiencing similar concerns.

Even when the time comes for society to move back to “normal,” these mental health concerns in children will not simply go away. Similarly, if the insurance industry responds to this crisis by expanding Medicaid and CHIP, children will still lack the environmental stability that essentially disappeared overnight. Expanded insurance options will also not remedy network inadequacy. An inability to meet behavioral health demands will continue to result in children’s ER visits for behavioral health issues and a rise in youth suicide rates.

There once was a time when children with minor behavioral health issues could receive the attention they needed at school. However, with the vacancy of traditional schools and the growing number of children who can’t access behavioral health services, kids are struggling even more. Since creating more qualified professionals simply isn’t possible, networks must become better equipped by adding training and resources to supplement the providers they already have.

The insurance industry as a whole was slow to determine the depth of the behavioral health problem and how they would address it. But it all comes down to primary care provider networks, which will be the main line of defense against this type of network inadequacy. One of the best things insurance companies can do is offer the tools and education that their providers need to meet the demand. These tools should focus on programming that caters to the behavioral health of the younger children ages 6-12. Apps with a person-based model and interactive methods can support treatment for this population in a virtual environment.

TOG Network Solutions uses a process of intellectual understanding in collaboration with payers to develop solutions that meet the needs of the population. TOG prides itself in building quality networks in a world where there aren’t many providers available. While there is a long road ahead of us in terms of meeting the behavioral health needs of our children, TOG’s innovative approach is able to problem-solve this issue better than most.

Special thank you to Thomas R. Young, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Nview Health Inc. for serving as the lead resource for this article.