The Advantages of Telehealth During COVID-19

The Advantages of Telehealth During COVID-19

 

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States and around the world, we are continuously faced with the impact that this virus has had on our personal lives, communities, and society as a whole. Our federal and local health departments are regularly assessing the spread of COVID-19 and making decisions that can potentially impact our daily lives and routines. For the past several months, local governments have been tasked with determining which establishments are able to safely remain open and which should be closed until the spread has slowed down. On an individual level, we’ve had to evaluate activities that in the past we deemed ‘safe’ without giving it further thought such as going out to a restaurant or attending a medical or mental health appointment. Many people are not only concerned about contracting Covid-19 themselves but potentially exposing their friends and loved ones who fall into high-risk categories. This really challenges us to determine our priorities and the level of risk we’re comfortable with, so if you have found yourself second-guessing a face-to-face meeting and thinking “do I really need to go to that appointment?” or “can this wait until after the pandemic is over?,” that’s pretty common.  There are a lot of factors to consider and that can be overwhelming! It turns out that you probably should attend that medical or mental health appointment though. It is just as important, if not more important now than ever, to ensure you’re taking care of your mental and physical health. Recently, 53% of adults across the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to increased stress and worry related to Covid-191. Additionally, one in three adults reported having at least one symptom of anxiety or depression during this pandemic. Thankfully, the use of telehealth during this pandemic has made it easier for you to attend appointments safely. At Washington Psychological Wellness we offer therapy through telehealth that can help you with anxiety, depression, stress, transitional difficulties, grief, loss, and several other things that might be having you feeling stuck.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health

Back in March, we didn’t know as much about Covid-19 as we do now, and some had high hopes that it would be under control in the United States by the end of spring. The initial nationwide shelter-in-place order impacted everyone in different ways. Some people continued to work each day in fields deemed essential, some were able to work from home, others were laid off, schools and daycare centers closed, and while this was a major change for most, it was only 15 days but quickly turned into 30 days. In the grand scheme of things, that amount of time seems small. However, this abrupt change is enough to throw anybody off! It’s plenty of time to break your previously established routines and make new ones. That means less healthy routines may have been formed during the shelter-in-place order due to increased anxiety, stress, and symptoms of depression, making it harder to adjust back to some sort of ‘normalcy’ after some restrictions were lifted. After the initial shelter-in-place, some closures were extended, restrictions were put into place regarding social gatherings, and unfortunately, some temporary layoffs turned into permeant layoffs. Some of the issues individuals are experiencing across the United States due to the Covid-19 pandemic include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulties related to eating (eating too much or too little)
  • Increased alcohol consumption and substance use
  • Isolation
  • Increased stress
  • Increased worry
  • Job loss
  • Loneliness
  • Exacerbated symptoms for those with pre-pandemic mental health concerns
  • Increased symptoms of anxiety and depression in those with no previous mental health concerns
  • Negative mental health impacts on women with children under 18 years old
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Decreased energy
  • Low mood
  • Increased burn out among healthcare workers.
  • Pre-occupation with cleanliness and an increase in compulsive thoughts
  • Grief from the loss of loved ones.

It’s too early to tell what the long-term implications will be and what we will face as individuals and society in the future if mental health continues to decline during this pandemic. Some researchers warn that it may lead to long-term concerns such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and worsening of pre-existing psychiatric disorders. So, it’s safe to say that it’s better to address issues now rather than wait. Telehealth, which is also referred to as telemedicine or telemental health, makes it easier and more convenient to get the help you may need right now. 

Advantages of Telehealth During COVID-19

The Advantages of Telehealth During COVID-19

Telehealth has been around for quite a while now but has just recently taken off as a widely used and accepted alternative to in-person visits with health professionals. So, what is it exactly? Telehealth is an approach to care that uses technology, typically video conferencing or telephone calls, to provide some of the same services you would receive in an office. At Washington Psychological Wellness, our telehealth therapy services are provided in real-time over a secure video conferencing platform. A link is sent straight to your email, and with one click, you’re connected with a qualified mental health professional.

Of course, there are some cases in which telehealth isn’t the best option, usually, when the procedure requires physical touch, such as a dental cleaning. Still, for the most part, telehealth is a great option, especially for mental health services. Let’s talk about the specific benefits of utilizing telehealth instead of in-person visits right now:

  • Easier access to care: Some of the barriers that many individuals face to attending in-person visits are obtaining transportation to get to the appointment and finding the time in their already busy schedule to attend consistently. To effectively treat certain mental health issues like anxiety and depression, it is typically recommended that a client complete weekly appointments with his or her therapist until certain issues have been resolved, treatment goals have been met, or coping skills are being used consistently, which would allow for longer periods of time between sessions. This can be an issue for those living in rural areas where mental health providers are not nearby or readily available. Telehealth removes that barrier by allowing you to participate in therapy sessions from home or another preferred location, with no travel to the office required.
  • Telehealth is effective: Research supports the effectiveness of mental health services through telehealth. Studies show that providing telehealth therapy services is comparable to and just as effective as traditional in-person visits. Plus, clients have widely received the use of telehealth. Some clients, particularly those with anxiety disorders, may find leaving the house, traveling, and sitting in a waiting room to be quite nerve-racking, therefore increasing their symptoms right before the appointment. By removing these barriers, telehealth allows the client to feel more at ease. Therefore, the client and therapist can continue to build on progress each session rather than addressing symptoms that may have just come up due to travel and sitting in the waiting room.
  • It’s safe: Telehealth is the best option for keeping the client and the therapist safe from contracting and spreading Covid-19. Utilizing telehealth means the client and therapist work together from a safe distance with no mask required. This is a particularly great option for those at high risk with compromised immune systems. The video connection is also safe to use. Washington Psychological Wellness uses a secure video conferencing platform that keeps your information confidential and provides a private connection only accessible by the client and therapist.
  • You can get comfortable: Telehealth therapy services can be done anywhere as long as the client has access to a phone, tablet, or laptop and an internet connection. That means you get to decide where you participate. If you’re at home, try choosing your favorite spot in the house, grabbing a few of your favorite things like a comfy pillow, blanket, and hot beverage, and creating a safe space to complete your therapy sessions.

If you’ve experienced mental health difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no better time to start mental health services. With the help of telehealth services, you can rest assured that your services will be easy to access, easy to use, and keep you safe!  Washington Psychological Wellness offers therapy for adults, adolescents, teens, and children as well as family therapy, couples therapy, and psychological assessment by qualified mental health professionals and delivered through telehealth. Our staff are skilled at working with clients experiencing a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, stress, grief or loss, transitional difficulties, low self-esteem, addictive or compulsive behaviors and much more. We’re here to help!

Resources

  1. Langarizadeh, M., Tabatabaei, M. S., Tavakol, K., Naghipour, M., Rostami, A., & Moghbeli, F. (2017, December 25). Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: A Systematic Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5723163/

Panchai, N., Orgera, K., Cox, C., Garfield, R., Hamel, L., Munana, C., & Chidambaram, P. (2020, August 21). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/