As COVID-19 locked down the country, telehealth rapidly gained popularity, especially for behavioral and mental health services. Unlike most doctor visits, mental health visits typically do not require face-to-face meetings. Visits can be conducted via video or even audio calls, though many physicians prefer video calls in order to read the physical cues of their patients. Over the course of the pandemic, telemental health has changed drastically and become more pertinent.
In many cases, insurance companies offered permanent or temporary plan benefits to employers that included mental health services. These benefits included virtual appointments which could be accessed anywhere the employee was connected to the internet or Wi-Fi.
Telehealth allows insurers to offer these benefits with less out-of-pocket costs for employees. In some cases, the entire cost of the telehealth visit is waived.
Access to mental health services through telemedicine became easier not just because travel and financial burdens were eased, but because employees were confronted with less stigma. While mental health concerns have gained recognition and more understanding in recent years, there are those that still feel judgment. Telehealth provides the option to receive services without having to venture into unfamiliar territory.
Areas needing improvement
While accessibility to the services improved for many employees, it did not improve for all. Privacy can be an issue for those who live in busy or multi-generational homes. Some members do not feel comfortable having certain mental health conversations when family or household members can overhear.
Support groups often favor in-person sessions as opposed to virtual ones. Some prefer the energy and engagement that comes from a room full of people. While virtual groups are easier to attend, there are those who find the session lacking in connection.
Technology limits many employees as well. If an employee doesn’t have access to a capable device, then they cannot attend a virtual session. Similarly, those who are unfamiliar with the technology and how it works may not be able to call in and access their provider virtually.
Telehealth, especially for mental health, has vastly improved since pre-pandemic times; however, there is still room to improve. Consider whether telemental health is right for you.
For more information on telehealth or benefits that relate to telehealth, please contact your dedicated Creative Benefits, Inc. team member.