WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE PROVIDERS
The White House recently announced $2.5 billion in funding to address mental health and substance use disorders. The funding includes $825 million toward state grants for community services that seek to fill current gaps in treatment.
In addition to much-needed funding, mental and behavioral healthcare providers are benefitting from telehealth services. These virtual healthcare services are removing barriers between providers and some patients by allowing them to connect outside of traditional in-office environments. Patients can talk with their healthcare professional from any location—including their home. This makes it easier for some patients to access mental health treatment.
Behavioral health visits via telehealth were “hundreds of times higher during several months of 2020 than a year earlier,” according to the Morning Consult article. Telehealth services for online therapy or phone therapy are being used for existing patients, and they’re also proving to be particularly beneficial for new patients who haven’t been to the facilities yet, those who don’t feel comfortable visiting offices in-person and patients in rural areas.
FINDING SOLUTIONS FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The need for mental and behavioral services will likely continue to grow, placing ongoing pressure on providers who are already stretched thin. Government funding will provide some much needed help, but it doesn’t solve the issue of patients who are currently unable to see a service provider.
One solution is for primary care physicians to help their patients form healthy eating habits, engage in regular physical activity and get treated for sleep disorders. It’s one step to help patients reduce the effects of mental health issues and receive treatment from providers who may be more accessible than those in mental and behavioral care.
Likewise, primary care physicians can provide treatment and medications for some mental health issues, or screen patients for issues like anxiety or depression. This allows the physician to provide a treatment plan or recommend a specialist, which can start the patient on the road to appropriate care.