Telehealth Makes It Easier to Get Mental Health Care

Telehealth Makes It Easier to Get Mental Health Care

Many people struggle to get help for mental health concerns. The growing availability of telehealth care is helping with one part of the problem, offering simpler access to care.

Telehealth use has grown significantly in recent years, leaving site icon especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to help limit the risk of exposure that people would have during in-person visits encouraged many more providers and patients to use telehealth than ever before.

Telehealth is an effective way to get mental health care. And with its potential to lower health care costs and improve patient outreach and health outcomes, it looks like telehealth is here to stay.

Why Try Telehealth Visits for Mental Health Care?

More people are using their smartphone, tablet or computer to get help for mental health concerns. That’s because using telehealth can make it easier to get care for common mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

  • Video visits can be especially helpful because you still get face-to-face interaction with a therapist.
  • You can choose a time that works best for you.
  • You don’t have to leave home to get care, which saves time and the costs of transit. It can also mean less time off work. All you need is a private place where you can talk, a place where you feel at ease.
  • You can get short-term care or continue long-term therapy with a virtual therapist.
  • Just like with any other doctor visit, your confidentiality is respected, and your health information is protected.
The Big Picture

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 1 in 5 adults had a mental illness. leaving site icon And now it’s even more common.

Even though there is a growing need for mental health care, many Americans are still not able to get the help they need. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that more than half of U.S. counties have no psychiatrists. leaving site icon And even in places that have mental health care providers, there are often not enough to meet the need.

While some people need more intensive, in-person care, telehealth is an effective way to get care for many mental health issues. And it can make a big difference in places that don’t have enough providers by connecting patients and providers who are far apart.

It’s also well suited for young people. It may even be better than in-person visits leaving site icon for young patients. That’s important because young people’s mental health is increasingly at risk, says the American Academy of Pediatricsleaving site icon 

Telehealth can also help lower the cost of health care. In addition, telehealth:

  • Is an important tool to improve access to care for marginalized and underserved groups of people.
  • Can be a good choice for people with disabilities or those in rural areas, when travel to in-person visits is hard.
Do You Need Help?

People with mental illness can have symptoms that involve a range of feelings, including:

  • Shifts in mood
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Low energy
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Sleep problems

If the way you’re feeling interferes with your ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy your life, it’s time to get help. You don’t have to try to handle it alone.

If you don’t have a mental health care provider, you can get started by talking to your primary care provider. Like many health issues, help for mental illness takes expert diagnosis and treatment. Your primary care provider can help you find the right care.

Sources: Telehealth, leaving site icon National Alliance on Mental Illness; AAP, AACAP, CHA declare national emergency in children’s mental health, leaving site icon American Academy of Pediatrics, 2021; Mental Health Treatment Works, leaving site icon Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2021; The Effectiveness of Telemental Health: A 2013 Review, leaving site icon Telemedicine Journal and E-Health, 2013; The Year Ahead: The Future of Telehealth, leaving site icon Journal of AHIMA, 2022; How well is telepsychology working?, leaving site icon American Psychological Association, 2020