ICYMI: On World Mental Health Day, Listen To The Evidence: Telehealth Provides Essential Access To Mental Health Care
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, Telehealth Provides High-Quality Care For Mental Health Needs.
In case you missed it, today marks the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Mental Health Day. Mental health care is essential and telehealth plays an increasingly vital role in ensuring patients can access the care they need in a convenient, low-cost manner.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that during the pandemic, telehealth accounted for 40 percent of mental health visits, and in the years following, it has remained a high use for mental health treatment. The report also found that telehealth access for mental health care is more likely to be utilized by rural patients, emphasizing the fact that telehealth increases access for all, regardless of how far a patient may be physically located to a care specialist. One 2022 study from athenahealth also found that telehealth mental health patients are 88.3 percent more likely to obtain a diagnosis than a traditional in-person appointment, supporting the knowledge that telehealth provides safe and effective care.
In addition to a wealth of research supporting telehealth’s role in mental health care, the stories from patients and providers speak for themselves.
One patient from New Jersey said, “I started working with my therapist during the height of the pandemic and have yet to meet her in person. I have a great therapeutic relationship with her, but due to my busy schedule, it is so much easier for me to meet with her via Zoom rather than going into an office. She can hold me accountable in all the same ways for my recovery, and I have yet to run into an issue. In fact, in some ways it has been even better being online, as we use different online tools to stay connected during the week.”
Another provider commented on the benefits of telehealth, saying, “As a mental health provider, teletherapy has allowed me to see young people with eating disorders who would have otherwise had to travel hundreds of miles for specialized mental health care or would not have been able to access the treatment they need at all. In some areas of Michigan, there are no specialized eating disorder providers. Telehealth in these cases is not merely a matter of convenience – it is a matter of necessity to be able to put people in touch with experts who can help them. Telehealth is vital for increasing access to care, particularly among communities (people of color, financially disadvantaged communities, and rural communities) that have traditionally been underserved.”
Congress must listen to the stories of mental health patients and providers, as well as the overwhelming evidence provided by years of research on the value of virtual care, and permanently safeguard telehealth access today.
ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICA
Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.