Bridging the Gap for Mental Health Professionals

mental health
Guest post by Mack Institute Student Research Fellow Mariam Malik

After working in healthcare services for four years and completing my first year of Wharton’s Health Care Management MBA program, I felt I’d gained a decent grasp of the healthcare market. However, I have had an interest in the complex space of mental health for several years, and wanted far more experience with mental health specifically. The timing to learn more seemed perfect given the favorable legislative changes and growth of interest in mental health among providers, start-ups, and investors. When I saw the Mack Institute’s opportunity to create a business plan for psychiatric software, I knew I had to apply.

The project originated from the observation that mental health professionals practice in silos, forgoing the benefits of collaboration and learning from each other. My objective was to explore the needs of this market and create a software service that could help coordinate their resources, allowing them to enhance their practice and quality of care provided to patients.

After beginning the market research, it quickly became clear that mental health was far more complex than I had predicted. However, the nuances that emerged through conversations with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and residents eventually pointed me in the right direction. I realized that the greatest need for bridging the communication and education gap existed among private practice professionals treating patients with anxiety disorders. With a 17% 12-month prevalence rate among U.S. adults, anxiety disorders are widely diagnosed. However, professionals treating these patients in private practice lack resources needed to make informed decisions, unlike their counter-parts in institutional settings.

The 10-week research project was an invaluable experience for me. It gave me the means to explore mental health and draw upon my past experiences to create a business plan that can hopefully transform the practice of mental health professionals and ultimately the care provided to patients.

Malik, Mariam_HeadshotMariam Malik (WG’16) is a current MBA candidate at the Wharton School and is part of the school’s Health Care Management program. She is focused on healthcare services with an interest in the mental and behavioral health space. Prior to attending Wharton, she graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a BS in Business Administration. She then worked as a Senior Associate Consulting at L.E.K. Consulting in the San Francisco office where she specialized in the firm’s Healthcare Services sector. Her clients were predominantly comprised of payers, providers, and health technology companies. She led several cases helping clients on growth strategy and M&A, and she contributed to L.E.K.’s expanding healthcare practice. Mariam is also a part Wharton’s Digital Health Club and Wharton Women in Business.