Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Forward to 2024

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    As we embark on another year of creating joy and healing generations, we want to take a moment to reflect on our team’s achievements in 2023 and outline our goals for 2024.

    First, let us check in on the status of our BHAG. Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to lead the way in taking adolescent and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide from the all-time highs of 2018 to all-time lows by 2028. For context, suicide rates for 10–24-year-olds increased by 52.2% between 2000-2021. Fortunately, results last year showed a decline in suicides year over year (from 2021 to 2022) for the first time in a long time! According to the CDC, rates for people in age groups 10–14 and 15–24 declined by 18% and 9%, respectively, from 2021 to 2022. There is still work to do, but we are on our way!

    Looking Back at 2023: Last year was a testament to the commitment we have to our BHAG. We served 2,750+ families, a record number! This growth is in large part a result of our dedication to accessibility. For the first time last year, most of those we served were able to use their insurance to cover treatment.

    In 2023 we also expanded our reach with the opening of eight programs:

    As of today, Embark operates programs across 16 States: 14 outpatient programs, 18 residential programs, and 11 states with Virtual IOP services. Our treatment includes eating disorder, substance use disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other mental health specialized tracks. These investments over the past number of years have focused on shifting the organization to tackle our BHAG. In 2023 we also secured multiple new in-network insurance contracts in partnership with forward-thinking payors.

    More families want and deserve coverage for behavioral health care for their loved ones. As the industry develops, we will continue to see the market shift to insurance pay. This shift is natural for a maturing healthcare system. As we shared in a recent letter, youth mental health care needs to become mainstream healthcare, with parity, awareness, and no stigma.

    Throughout the year we also made investments to strengthen our foundation to scale. Particularly in the areas of quality and compliance, with a focus on improving outcomes and safety. We also continued our investments in insurance payor relations to increase accessibility for the families we serve. Our 2023 annual outcomes report demonstrated the effectiveness of our programs in reducing distress, anxiety, depression, and suicidality while improving overall well-being, medication adherence, and minimizing hospitalizations.

    Thanks to our great people, Embark also hit an Employee Net Promoter Score in the top 5% of all healthcare companies (as reported by Workday), and earned multiple awards as a best place to work, and healthcare organization of the year.

    See our 2023 Results Video

    Looking Forward to 2024: In 2024, we are committed to furthering our impact by transitioning some existing programs to more accessible, insurance-reimbursed offerings. Insurance reimbursement allows us to serve the greatest number of clients and there is a severe shortage of options for families that are desperately in need. In 2024 we are also:

    • Opening three new RTCs: Colorado, Virginia, Georgia
    • Opening a second stabilization and assessment center in Utah.
    • Expanding capacity at multiple existing sites.
    • Adding four new outpatient clinics: Walnut Creek, CA, Livingston, NJ, Atlanta, GA, and DC Metro Area.
    • And expanding Virtual IOP to eight more states.

    We will continue forming strategic partnerships with payors that recognize Embark as a differentiated provider that prioritizes quality care. We will continue to support families and minimize hospitalizations through community-based interventions and accessible care options.

    In Summary: As we move forward, let us remain steadfast in our purpose and responsiveness to the evolving needs of our clients and society. Our full continuum approach underscores our commitment to intervening at the lowest level of care possible, ensuring that every individual receives the appropriate support they need to thrive.

    Thank you for your dedication and hard work. Being thoughtful and good stewards of our resources will continue to be a critical part of reaching our BHAG. Together, we can continue to use business as a force for good to drive societal change.

    With Gratitude and Joy,


    About the Author

    Alex Stavros

    Alex Stavros is the Chief Executive Officer at Embark Behavioral Health in Chandler, Arizona. He guides the organization with a wealth of insight and knowledge gained from a lifetime spent serving – as the son of missionaries – and focusing on leading purpose-driven businesses as a force for good. Stavros’ history of leadership includes time spent at Cambridge Associates, the world’s largest global investment advisory firm to not-for-profit organizations, as well as time at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. He also servers on the Board of Peruvian Partners, a nonprofit established to connect North Americans with Peruvian families that live in abject poverty. He enjoys spending his spare time with his wife, Maria-Paz, and their two beautiful children.