5 Challenges Faced By A New Behavioral Health Clinic


Behavioral health is emerging as a major concern for Americans, with millions living with various conditions. Nearly 90% of Americans think that the country is dealing with a mental health crisis. While stigma and lack of awareness persist, things are gradually changing. More people are open to seeking help, leading to an increase in demand for treatment.

As of 2023, the American market had 16,460 mental health and substance abuse clinics. The number is likely to increase in the future, making it the right time to start a clinic if you have the skills, credentials, and resources. However, like any business, you can expect to face certain barriers and hindrances as a startup. Awareness will help you strategize to address these from the outset.

In this article, we will highlight the challenges that new behavioral health clinics may encounter during the early stages.


What Itself Is Behavioral Health?

What Itself Is Behavioral Health?

It is a broad term that defines how your behaviors impact your physical and psychological wellness. The patterns of your eating, routine exercise, and thought process pattern come under behavioral health.

Behavioral health usually looks after the connections between the behaviors and the health support, and they include chronic disease management, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse, and recovery. They generally pinpoint the therapies that can help you bring in changes in your behavior.

The Benefits Of Integrating Behavioral Health

According to a study, around 80% of people suffering from disorders in behavioral health, visit the primary care provider at least once in their life. Hence, you can say it is one aspect related directly to behavioral health and wellness. According to another observation, around  50% of behavioral health are treatable in primary care centers. Hence, if you have such complexities, then it’s good news for you, to say the least.

There are also financial health benefits attached to behavioral health clinics. A study says that the cost of treating these psychological complexities has decreased by a massive 16 % after receiving behavioral treatments. The treatments have lowered the total cost of healthcare over 24 months.

In the USA, the collaborative care research network oversees the treatment infrastructure, builds a network, and finds a research question that hovers around behavioral care.

Challenges Faced By A New Behavioral Health Clinic

Here are some of the challenges that are faced by behavioral health clinics at the present moment. So, let us get started with the discussion here for the sake of the reader’s convenience.

Challenge #1: Licensing And Regulatory Compliance

Challenge #1: Licensing And Regulatory Compliance

Behavioral health professionals in the US are subject to state licensure laws and regulations they need to fulfill to start a practice. Additionally, they must comply with state and federal regulations, such as Medicaid/Medicare and HIPAA requirements. New clinics may struggle to navigate the complex landscape of regulatory compliance and obtain the necessary licenses.

Without these licenses, they cannot start a legitimate practice. The best piece of advice is to seek legal counseling from an expert specializing in healthcare regulations. They can help you streamline the licensing process by ensuring all legal obligations are met. Further, you can rely on them to do the heavy lifting such as paperwork while you focus on the clinic’s setup.

Challenge #2: Staffing And Recruitment

The success of a behavioral health clinic boils down to the qualifications and credentials of its staff. Recruiting qualified staff, including psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and support personnel, is a considerable challenge. According to 2023 statistics, the supply of mental health professionals in the US is short by 8000 professionals.

The limited availability of professionals, specifically in certain geographical areas, makes it hard to build a team for new clinics. While this challenge is difficult, you can address it by implementing comprehensive recruitment strategies. For example, networking with local universities and specialist recruiters can help you find top talent. Retention requires competitive salaries and opportunities for professional development.

Challenge #3: Operational Issues

Setting up a new behavioral health clinic can be an operational struggle, particularly when you have a small team. For example, you may find it hard to handle day-to-day tasks like billing and claims. For a beginner, health and human services billing can be overwhelming. Human error and missing out on regulatory guidelines can get you in a fix. Not to mention, the workload can be pressing.

According to Millin Associates, a billing software solution can simplify the process and address the inherent risks of errors and regulatory oversight. However, it is crucial to select and implement a system that aligns with your needs, addresses industry regulations, and ensures data security. Also, invest in staff training and ongoing technical support to facilitate smooth technology integration.

Challenge #4: Financial Sustainability

Challenge #4: Financial Sustainability

Since behavioral health treatment is in high demand, a new clinic can expect high profit margins and growth potential. However, the initial investment can be massive, considering you need to set up a facility, invest in equipment, hire a team, and incur other operational expenses. Achieving financial sustainability can be a hurdle during the early stage.

Besides high investment, the often-reliance on reimbursements from insurance providers can affect a new clinic’s sustainability. You can overcome this issue by developing a robust financial plan. It includes budgeting for operational expenses and negotiating favorable reimbursement rates with insurance companies. You can also consider exploring alternative funding sources such as grants or partnerships.

Challenge #5: Stigma And Lack Of Community Engagement

People dealing with mental health issues often encounter stigma in the form of disgrace, social discrediting, or social disapproval. At times, these factors deter them from seeking help, translating into fewer patients for clinics. Overcoming stigma linked with mental health issues and engaging the community to destigmatize seeking help is a challenge clinics may struggle with.

Overcoming them is a time-consuming process, though it is doable. You must partner with local organizations, develop outreach programs, and leverage social media and other communication channels to raise awareness. Also, you should foster community support and encourage people to seek help without fear of judgment.


In conclusion, establishing a new behavioral health clinic entails many challenges. However, these pitfalls should not keep you from exploring the opportunity and doing your bit to help patients. A strategic approach to address these challenges gives you a head start and keeps you a step ahead.

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