Mental healthcare is one of the most challenging issues in the United States. Only in recent years has an effort been made to destigmatize mental health-related conditions and push for access to quality mental health services. Patients dealing with mental health conditions have been met with barriers to services such as transportation, cost, coverage, and geographical locations. In 2020, our nation has transitioned into the age of digital care as the COVID-19 pandemic forces limits on in-person interactions. Healthcare providers everywhere have had to make the switch to telehealth to keep patients safe. More and more coverage has been offered for virtual visits across insurers in the medical field.
Before the pandemic, digital technologies like telehealth have helped medical patients stay engaged and cared for despite geographical restrictions or access to transportation. It is time for mental healthcare to adopt telehealth so that individuals with mental health conditions can gain access to the same convenience of services. Below are 4 benefits of digital technologies in mental healthcare.
Virtual Mental Healthcare:
Increase Access to Telehealth
Telehealth has revolutionized the way that patients access medical care. Traditionally, patients had to take time off work to travel to and from their providers to receive medical care. Some patients were forced to drive long distances and utilize large quantities of their time just to receive care. This leads to decreases in patient engagement or individuals avoiding care entirely. Telehealth offered an opportunity for patients to visit with their providers remotely. This made it easier for them to engage with their providers during the workweek, avoiding travel and time restrictions. These same barriers exist in mental healthcare. Patients who feel inconvenienced by mental health services are less likely to seek the help they need. By increasing access to telehealth in mental health care, we increase client engagement and improve access channels to services.
Decrease Wait Times
Mental health providers who utilize digital technologies for mental healthcare are able to decrease frustrating wait times. Sometimes, due to the structure of in-person therapy, an individual may have to wait long periods of time before they can find a therapist or gain access to services. This may be due to limited services in their area and limited time in a therapist’s day. The utilization of digital technology in mental healthcare helps eliminate this barrier. Providers are able to see more clients on average in a day with fewer restrictions.
Remove Geographical Barriers
One of the most common barriers to mental health services is geographical boundaries. If mental health services are outside of an individual’s travel radius or they lack transportation to get to and from their therapist, then they are not going to be able to get the mental healthcare they need. Digital technology removes geographical barriers so that an individual can conveniently engage with a therapist.
Decrease the Stigma
By removing barriers to mental healthcare, providers can continue to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health. The easier it is for patients to access mental health services; the fewer excuses they have for why they should not engage in them. Digital technologies like telehealth are helping break down walls to mental health services so that more individuals than ever can engage in them.
To learn more about telehealth services in mental healthcare, click here.