We are living in unprecedented times. A deadly pandemic has surfaced, the likes of which have not been experienced since the early 1900’s. The impact of this current pandemic has the potential to be even more devastating than the last, as the world is much more interconnected and interdependent than before.
On the other hand, the potential for people to receive applicable treatment for both the physical and psychological impact of this pandemic is in a much better place than in decades past. Thanks to the technological progress which has been made over the past several years, people are often no further from a phone call or video conference away from being able to consult with professionals regarding their concerns.
What Is Telemental Health?
Telehealth refers to any type of health service which is delivered via a medium other than face-to-face contact. It can include telephone calls, texts, video conference, and online interaction. Telemental health refers specifically to the ability to deliver and receive mental health support from a distance. It encompasses other, more familiar, terms such as telepsychiatry, telepsychology, and teletherapy.
Proponents for the widespread availability of telemental health services have long pointed to statistics which indicate that certain portions of the population are lacking in mental health support due to lack of access to physical mental health locations. Individuals who live in rural areas, those who suffer from mobility difficulties, and those who lack transportation and time are often unable to make the journey from their locations to a facility which provides quality mental health care.
The progress toward providing telemental health services has met with some resistance from regulating agencies. These types of agencies were constructed along with the growing popularity of mental health treatment from the mid 1900’s, and were charged with overseeing the requirements of mental health care providers to include best care practices for their patrons. Changes in these regulations have not quite kept pace with the growth of technology, leaving access to quality telehealth services in a gray area.
How Mental Health Care Rules Are Evolving for Coronavirus
With the coronavirus pandemic and associated social distancing guidelines arriving suddenly on the scene, regulators were compelled to take a closer look at the convenience of receiving therapy from a remote location. Data indicating that telemental health is similarly effective in treating a multitude of disorders was placed in the forefront, and privacy rights of patients and clients receiving remote care were scrutinized.
Similarly, insurance companies began to be pressured toward accepting claims for mental health services provided through such avenues. The result is a temporary lifting of former restrictions so that providers can deliver much needed therapy to those who are suffering from mental health symptoms while simultaneously heeding the call to avoid excessive social contact. There are many providers who hold out the hope that these current progressions in acceptance of telehealth as a viable treatment option will remain far into the future.
Telemental Health Services and Support
Telemental health services rely on the effectiveness of talk therapy toward treating mental health concerns and disorders. Talk therapy has been the go-to treatment since its early application by psychotherapy pioneers such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It has been demonstrated as being effective with disorders ranging from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, and personality disorders.
When it comes to deciding upon the right type of telemental health treatment for you, some insight into how you best learn and communicate can be helpful. If you are a visual person, support provided through video conference may be what provides you with the best outcome. An auditory person will tend to benefit most from sessions provided over phone. Someone who gains more from reading and writing is likely to find therapy bulletin boards and interactive journals useful.
Anxiety is already the most common disorder experienced in the country. With the stress of COVID-19 in play, there are even more reasons to feel anxious. Our health, finances, and future plans are all at risk. Receiving telemental health support during this time can help you to examine your core values, reframe your fearful thoughts, and develop coping mechanisms to use when the anxiety levels are high.
Experiences of depression run a close second when it comes to prevalence of mental health disorder in America. While anxiety tends to focus on fear of the future, depression tends to focus on current and past situations. Many people are feeling the weight of our current crisis, yet are unable to engage in activities which might otherwise work to alleviate and distract from depressive thoughts and feelings.
A hallmark of bipolar disorder is that a person’s mood shifts from highs to lows. While largely thought to be due to a chemical fluctuation in the brain, moods can definitely be negatively and positively affected by situations and mindset. Talk therapy can assist in helping a person with bipolar disorder to learn to recognize the impending mood shifts, and mitigate the drastic responses and behaviors which often result.
Substance Abuse Treatment
Mental health disorders and tendency toward substance abuse are highly correlated. Mental health disorders can prompt a person to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, and substance abuse can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. With so many people stuck at home, and with idle time on their hands, even old habits of abusing drugs and alcohol may creep back in. Talking with a therapist can help to weigh the pros and cons of giving into the temptation to use substances, and can assist you in finding more healthy ways to cope with the stress and boredom.
Personality disorders are those which tend to influence a person’s entire approach and evaluation of life. One of the most diagnosed personality disorders is that of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Talk therapies have been shown to be extremely successful for those struggling with this disorder, as such therapy is focused on providing the client with new ideas and techniques for navigating life situations.