The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work, and it has also fundamentally changed the way we approach healthcare. In particular, the use of Telehealth for therapy has increased dramatically over the past year. As we move forward, it’s clear that Telehealth will continue to be an important trend in the field of mental health treatment.
During the pandemic, Telehealth therapy emerged as an alternative to in-person visits. Now, Telehealth is being widely viewed as complementary to in-person visits. It allows patients to receive treatment from a therapist or psychiatrist remotely, rather than having to visit an office or hospital for in-person appointments.
One of the biggest benefits of Telehealth for therapy is that it can make mental health services more accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to receive them. For example, people who live in rural areas or who have mobility issues may have a hard time getting to a therapist’s office, but they can easily access therapy services through their computer or phone. With Telehealth, you can have a therapy session from the comfort of your own home, without having to take time off work or spend time commuting to an office.
Medicare will continue to reimburse for these services for at least two more years. Originally, the addition of reimbursement for Telehealth mental health services was temporary due to COVID, and expected to expire at the end of 2021. However, the 2022 CMS Physician Fee Schedule changes have extended this through Dec. 31, 2023. CMS stated that this extension provides them with additional time to fully evaluate whether Telehealth mental health services should be permanently added to Medicare’s covered treatments list.
Telehealth is a growing field, and it has the potential to improve health outcomes for patients across the country. The technology allows people who live in rural areas or underserved communities access to mental health care that they might not otherwise have. It also helps therapists reach out to those who need help but would otherwise be unable to travel long distances for therapy sessions.
Millions of parents have been faced with skyrocketing rates of mental and behavioral health issues among adolescents and teens. Pre-COVID, 12.8 million children between 3 and 17 years old had been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, and ADD or ADHD. A growing problem before, COVID wreaked havoc on an already vulnerable group. Telehealth therapy is particularly beneficial for young people with mental health needs because it allows them to get treatment when transportation is not available or when there is a need to seek treatment without their parents involvement.
With the growing number of people living alone and the increasing number of individuals who need help with everyday tasks, it’s no surprise that many seniors are turning to Telehealth as a way to receive therapy and other mental health services. Not only that, but they are seeing improved health outcomes. Receiving treatment from their own with fewer barriers between getting they help they need as shown faster results.
Of course, there are also some challenges to using Telehealth for therapy. One of the biggest concerns is privacy and security. Therapists need to make sure that they are using secure platforms and that they are following HIPAA guidelines to protect their patients’ sensitive information. As more people use Telehealth services, there has been increased oversight from insurance companies and government agencies who want to ensure that these providers are following best practices when it comes to patient care.
Telehealth is increasing access to therapy and helping to remove the stigma around mental health and its treatment. As the number of people reaching out for care increases, as people gain lived experience with distress and mental illness and can talk openly about it, this stigma should continue to diminish. The less judgment that exists and the less confronting treatment appears, the more people will be drawn to therapy.
The best way to find out if Telehealth Therapy is right for you is to ask your provider, current therapist, or another trusted mental health professional to refer you to a colleague who offers it.
Although it may be difficult and time-consuming to find the right therapist for you, it’s important to keep trying. The sooner you can start therapy — and stay committed to it — the sooner you’ll have an improved quality of life.
At Healing Minds, we have therapists that can help you deal with difficult times and mental health issues. Working with a therapist can make the difference you need to step towards a full, whole life once again.