Discussion surrounding telehealth primarily centers on how it can help patients with physical conditions. While it is instrumental in doing so, that doesn’t begin to cover the possibilities that telehealth holds for patient care. Beyond physical treatments and administrative tasks, telehealth is also branching out into the realm of mental health care. Through telehealth services, patients can receive greater access to mental health treatment, vastly improving the quality and depth of their care.
Access to Mental Health Care
One of the greatest ways in which telehealth can cater to mental health treatment is by improving accessibility. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients worldwide struggled to get the care they needed. For patients seeking mental health treatment, putting a pause in their care could have severe repercussions for their mental wellbeing. That, on top of the pandemic itself, resulted in increased levels of depression and anxiety for many patients.
Fortunately, the pandemic forced healthcare providers to find new ways to reach patients, and with telehealth, they were capable of doing so. Through telehealth, patients could continue meeting with their mental health provider, ensuring that they could continue their ongoing care without compromising themselves to the virus.
Even if the pandemic weren’t a factor, telehealth helps bring mental health care to areas that may not have it otherwise, such as rural areas. As patients can communicate with their providers remotely through telehealth, location is no longer an issue.
Bringing care to a patient’s home also eliminates other conflicts, such as transportation barriers for patients who do not have reliable transportation or find it difficult to leave the house. This is crucial in terms of mental health, as many patients dealing with severe depression often struggle to leave their homes, even when they recognize that they need help. With telehealth, patients can get the care they need without having to leave their homes, ensuring that as many barriers to recovery are eliminated as possible.
With improved access to care, patients are more inclined to continue their ongoing care, ensuring that they can voice their concerns and get the help they need. As patients have more flexibility with their mental health care, it also reduces the need for patients to take time off of work or find additional childcare. More frequent and ongoing mental health care visits can also significantly decrease patients’ visits to the ER, as they can get help before it is too late.
For many patients struggling with their mental health, it can take a lot of courage to seek help. Through telehealth, it is significantly easier for patients to get the care they need without inconveniencing them. As care is more accessible and convenient, patients are encouraged to seek and continue care, providing them the means to begin recovery.
Improving Quality of Care
While increasing access to care is a significant component of improving mental health care for patients, it is also crucial that their quality of care is improved. Unfortunately, many patients still struggle to overcome the stigmas surrounding mental health, and receiving inadequate care doesn’t help them overcome this.
Fortunately, telehealth provides patients with endless options for mental health care. As location is no longer a concern, it ensures that patients don’t have to settle for a provider simply because they are the most convenient or the only one available. Through a telehealth portal, patients receive access to a global network of providers. As such, patients can choose from various specialists, ensuring that they find a provider that meets their needs and makes them feel comfortable.
Once a patient has found a provider that they are satisfied with, telehealth makes it easy to receive care through live, interactive communication and direct channels of communication. As a result, provider-patient appointments are seamless, as are follow-up appointments, ensuring continuity of care. Even when patients aren’t in a live meeting with their provider, they have access to mental health resources, ensuring 24/7 support.
Telehealth can also help primary care providers paint a complete picture of their patients. Any healthcare provider will recognize that a patient’s physical health is only one piece of the puzzle, and their mental health is equally as important. Through a telehealth platform, all of a patient’s information can be stored in one centralized location, ensuring that a patient’s mental health care supports their physical care and vice versa.
Any information pertinent to a patient’s health, whether mental or physical, can be shared through the telehealth platform, including physician notes, prescriptive information, and medical records. As a result, patients receive holistic care at all times, ensuring that they are treated wholly and accurately by all providers.
Catering to the Next Generation of Patients
Mental health has been an issue for a long time, but it wasn’t until recent decades that it was something physicians began to address seriously. Today, mental health is a prevalent concern for providers and patients alike, particularly younger generations. In fact, young adults aged 18-25 have the highest prevalence of mental illness.
This age group is not only the generation most aware of and affected by mental health but also the generation most in-tune with technology and virtual communication. As such, many younger patients see the benefits of telehealth and often prefer it to traditional healthcare visits. If mental health care is virtual and thus more convenient, younger patients will be much more inclined to seek the treatment that they need.
It’s only a matter of time until these younger generations make up the majority of patients. For providers to keep up with the times, they must understand these patients’ needs and learn how to care for them wholly. To connect with the next generation of patients, and more to come, providers must focus on the patient experience as a whole, and a significant aspect of that is mental health.
Expanding the Reach of Mental Health Care
By offering telehealth, providers can vastly increase patients’ access to mental health care and the quality of the care provided - and that’s only the beginning. Too many patients struggling with their mental health are hesitant to seek the help they need. But, if providers can make it more convenient, they can open up care to an entire generation of patients (and more), ensuring that they get proper and continuous mental health treatment.
A patient’s physical health is only one component of many when it comes to patient care. Mental health is a critical component of a patient’s wellbeing, and it is vital that providers can treat it by any means possible. By increasing the accessibility and quality of mental health care, providers can vastly improve the lives of their patients.
Treating mental health isn’t straightforward, but finding the right care for it should be. Through telehealth, patients can receive ongoing, reliable, and quality mental health care from anywhere in the world. As a result, patients can begin the journey to improving their mental health, resulting in happier and healthier patients.