The COVID pandemic has taken a huge toll on the physical health of millions of Americans. Less obvious is the strain it has placed on mental health services. Technology may be able to help with this, too.
The COVID crisis has stretched many parts of the U.S. healthcare system to the breaking point. News reports focus on the shortage of ICU beds, and the difficulties that non-COVID patients face in finding treatment. Fortunately, telehealth services have helped healthcare professionals consult with patients remotely. But the mental health of residents does not get the same attention. More than two-thirds of people responding to a survey reported that their mental health was worse as a result of the pandemic. They cited isolation and stress as major causes. And a whopping 84% said that they want access to virtual services for mental health. Not having to travel to an office visit and feeling more comfortable at home were the top two reasons. But telehealth also lowers the barriers to getting treatment, as many people are hesitant to seek direct help for mental issues. Virtual mental health services have been shown to be as effective as in person treatment, making it more accessible in rural and underserved areas.