Telehealth, Healthcare 101, Supplemental Health

Turning to Telehealth for Mental Health Services

05/04/2022

As the pandemic continues, mental health has been on the minds of many people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness1. When COVID-19 sent us into isolation and uncertainty, American’s struggle with mental health only intensified.

Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show a significant increase in people reporting behavioral health symptoms during the pandemic. According to survey findings, 21% of respondents said they’ve felt more anxious and depressed, 13% said they experienced increased substance use, and 26% reported stress-related symptoms — all nearly double pre-pandemic rates2. In another sign that mental health issues are a growing concern, therapists and psychologists have also reported a spike in demand for treatment3.  

Access to mental health care, however, continues to be a challenge for many Americans. With a serious shortage of mental health providers across the U.S., around 31% of patients find themselves waiting a week or longer to get a mental health appointment4. Of those who do get appointments, 46% of patients report having to travel more than an hour to see their mental health providers4. And 29% of patients seeking mental health care for themselves or a loved one simply don’t know where or how to get it4. 

 

Telehealth Brings Mental Health Care Home 

The good news is that individuals struggling with mental health challenges do have an easier way to access the mental health services they need, via telehealth. Since the onset of COVID-19, more people have turned to remote options for their mental health care. Studies find that early on in the pandemic, in-person mental health visits initially fell by 21.9%5. By December 2020, the number of mental health visits increased dramatically, with 47.9% of patients turning to telehealth for mental health services in place of in-person visits5.  

Psychologists seem to have embraced telehealth as an effective way to diagnose and treat their patients. Since the pandemic, 96% of clinical psychologists continue to provide at least some services remotely2. What’s more, 96% of psychologists said that telehealth has proven to be an effective therapeutic tool during the pandemic, and 93% said that they plan to keep providing telehealth post-pandemic2.   

Explains David Mohr, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, “What we’ve seen is that telehealth is essentially just as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy—and retention rates are higher.”6 

 

Why Telehealth Works for Mental Health 

Mental health professionals and patients alike seem to agree that telehealth offers a viable option for those in need of mental health services, with patients reporting a high level of satisfaction with the remote care they’ve received for their mental health conditions7. It’s true that telehealth offers a range of advantages and benefits for those seeking mental health care, especially given the barriers to in-person services. Here are just a few reasons why more patients are turning to telehealth for their mental health services. 

 

Comfort Levels: Conducted in the comfort and privacy of home, telehealth visits eliminate the discomfort of sitting in waiting rooms in an unfamiliar setting surrounded by strangers. 

Less Stress: Telehealth visits eliminate the need to find transportation, stressful commutes, and the worry about being late to an in-person appointment. 

More Flexibility: Many patients who struggle with anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues also lead very busy lives. Telehealth visits can be scheduled at a time that works best for the patient. 

Easier Access: For patients who don’t have easy access to in-person mental health care due to geographic location, limited mobility, or lack of transportation, telehealth visits conveniently bring the care to them. 

Less Cancellations: Patients who are sick or struggling with debilitating mental health disorders are less likely to miss or cancel telehealth appointments than they are in-person visits7.

If you’re interested in learning more about accessing telehealth for mental health services, reach out to us at (800) 467-4898. We’ll help you find the care you need at a cost you can afford. 

 

  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/messages/2021/one-year-in-covid-19-and-mental-health
  3. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/10/mental-health-treatment-demand
  4. https://patientengagementhit.com/news/key-barriers-limiting-patient-access-to-mental-healthcare
  5. https://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/Mental_Health_430/Pandemic-Use-of-Telehealth-for-Mental-Health-Care.shtml
  6. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/07/cover-telepsychology
  7. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/millennial-media/201901/14-benefits-teletherapy-clients

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