On-Demand Stepped Care Mental Health Provider Wave Now In-Network For 3 Million Aetna California Members 

Updated on May 19, 2024

Wave recently announced that it has joined Aetna as an in-network mental health care provider in California, giving 3 million California residents covered access to its on-demand stepped mental health care platform. Created by clinical psychologist Dr. Sarah Adler, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, Wave delivers personalized, virtual mental health care to help members navigate the highs and lows of daily life, with evidence-based solutions and science-backed care plans. 

Combining an app-based digital experience with certified mental health coaches and licensed therapists trained in its proprietary care model, Wave has demonstrated significant reductions in acute depression, anxiety and stress. The company’s stepped care approach ensures the most effective, yet least resource-intensive treatment, is delivered first.

5.6 million Californians are living with a mental health condition, yet an astounding 63% of California adults with psychiatric illness reported receiving no mental health services. It’s no surprise that a majority of Californians surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation believe their communities do not have enough mental health professionals. Even for Californians who can access mental healthcare, many are priced out by the state’s $175 average therapy session fee, the nation’s third highest.

As the U.S. grapples with an ongoing mental health care provider shortage, Wave is among a handful of visionary care models equipped to make a dent in the supply and demand imbalance. Rather than rely solely on licensed therapists or a conventional once-weekly client-therapist encounter, Wave combines board-certified mental health coaches and personalized, interactive, app-based psychoeducational content to meet members wherever they might be on their mental health care journeys. More than 40 percent of Wave members see improvement in their anxiety, depression, and stress/burnout in just four sessions.

“It’s imperative that we detach ourselves from the collective delusion that legacy care models, even with the mainstreaming of telehealth, are equipped to meet the national mental health crisis we find ourselves in,” said Dr. Sarah Adler, Founder and CEO of Wave and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University. “We must radically increase the volume of trained mental health professionals, augmenting the licensed therapist workforce with highly-skilled and certified mental health coaches, and find ways to support those in crisis with always-on, evidence-based support. This is what we’re trying to achieve at Wave, and why we’re thrilled to now be in-network Aetna California members.”

With more than half of Americans now born 1980 or after, how people seek out, engage with and perceive the value of their mental health care is changing. Gen Z, in particular, views emotional health as at the core of their identity, and central to how they think about health and wellness as a whole. Born 1997 to 2012, this generation spends more time and money on preventative health rather than episodic health, including attending regular therapy sessions for a specific problem for a specific period of time. The generation also gravitates to a lifestyle augmented by technology, with reality existing in a blended version of both sides of a digital screen.

Wave’s digital-first care experience is built with these trends in mind. 

  • 24/7 Support and Custom Care Pathways. Wave combines the expertise of board-certified mental health coaches—who also serve as care coordinators—with cutting-edge technology to support members at all stages of their journey, meaning integrated, continuous care is at the forefront of every member’s personalized care pathway.
  • Virtual One-on-One Sessions: Members can engage in personalized sessions with their coach via the Wave app, where they’ll receive tailored guidance and support designed to meet their unique mental health and well-being goals.
  • Custom “Byte”-Sized Exercises: Based on members’ one-on-one sessions, their assigned coach will develop a custom program filled with manageable, “byte”-sized exercises. These are crafted to address both mental and physical health, making it easier for members to achieve their objectives at their own pace.
  • In-App Messaging for Continuous Support: To ensure members have support between their virtual sessions, Wave offers in-app messaging with their coach. This feature allows members to seek guidance, ask questions, and stay connected, ensuring they’re supported every step of the way.

Any Wave member can step-up to a higher level of care with a licensed Wave psychologist while still receiving mental health guidance from their coach. Wave also offers outbound referrals for those who need augmentative or different types of care. 

About Wave

Wave delivers personalized, virtual mental health care to help members navigate the highs and lows of daily life, with evidence-based solutions and science-backed care plans. Combining an app-based digital experience with mental health coaches certified by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching and trained in its proprietary, evidence-based mental health model, Wave has demonstrated significant reductions in acute depression, anxiety and stress. The company’s stepped care model, which delivers and monitors mental health treatment so that the most effective, yet least resource intensive treatment, is delivered first, also includes access to licensed therapists when clinically appropriate. To learn more, visit www.wavelife.io.

14556571 1295515490473217 259386398988773604 o

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.