By Jodi Helmer

Imagine being lost in the woods, surrounded by trees with no trail in sight. If you’ve come prepared with a map and compass, you can put to work a process called triangulation—in which you use the location of several landmarks to pinpoint an exact location—to help find a way out.

For people living with mental illness, finding the right management strategy can feel a lot like being lost in the woods. Despite decades of research and numerous new clinical management strategies, the healthcare industry is no closer to finding any elusive “cure.”

The good news is that a series of emerging movements has the potential to reframe how we treat mental illness. First, a growing number of promising, innovative treatment modalities are expanding the physician’s toolbox, which can in turn broaden therapeutic options.

Next, the healthcare industry is adopting a more patient-centric approach, which actively engages people in decisions about their care. This is a critical step in creating a successful and sustainable mental health program that best meets a person’s needs.

Finally, it is not enough to simply understand how a particular treatment meets a person’s needs. We must also ensure that the treatments being studied are available to every type of patient who may ultimately use them. Therefore, democratizing the clinical trial process is integral to finding meaningful ways to help people manage their mental health.

Here we’ll explore these movements in detail, offering a view into mental healthcare at its far frontier.