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Mental Health Counseling Through Telehealth

Patients who have a mental health condition face significant challenges when it comes to accessing treatment. They may struggle with transportation, schedule issues, or other barriers that can prevent them from receiving help.

Fortunately, telehealth counseling can eliminate these obstacles and allow patients to receive the necessary care. Here are a few reasons why mental health counseling via telehealth is essential:

Access

Mental health professionals can offer telehealth mental health counseling to clients in rural or remote areas who might otherwise not have access to treatment. Counselors can also work with individuals with disabilities and those with limited mobility, using video conferencing and other communication tools.

Many people avoid seeking mental health treatment due to transportation or childcare issues or fear the stigma of going into a therapist’s office. These obstacles can be overcome with telehealth counseling, and patients can feel more comfortable receiving home treatment.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services were growing in popularity. During the pandemic, Medicare and Medicaid provided temporary flexibilities to expand telehealth coverage and reimbursement to help limit the risk of infection during in-person visits. Even now, telehealth is an important service that will continue to serve a wide range of people.

Reliability

Many clients can benefit from telehealth counseling, as it eliminates roadblocks that may interfere with in-person sessions. Telehealth also enables counselors to reach prospective clients living where few, if any, counselors practice.

Mental health issues skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with three in 10 adults reporting depression and anxiety symptoms since April 2020, according to KFF. In response, therapists switched from treating clients in their offices to virtually all telehealth visits (telemental health or virtual therapy) like DBT for depression.

However, various factors can affect the quality of a telehealth session, including slow internet connectivity and digital disparities that impact low-income clients. This can cause clients to feel disconnected from their counselors and discourage adherence. In addition, some telehealth platforms are more complicated to use than others.

Convenience

Many people find traditional in-person counseling sessions intimidating. They may fear the stigma of walking into a therapist’s office, or they may not have the time to travel to an in-person appointment. With telehealth, patients can meet with their mental health counselor in the comfort of their own homes.

While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the mental health industry to expand access to telehealth services, many private insurance providers and even Medicare still limit telehealth coverage. However, portability initiatives are allowing telehealth counselors to practice across state lines.

The convenience of telehealth also makes it easier for individuals to attend therapy sessions regularly. This is especially helpful for those with busy schedules or lacking transportation options. It also benefits those living in remote areas with limited mental health resources.

Affordability

Telehealth counseling can be more affordable than in-person sessions. Many telehealth providers charge less because they don’t need to pay for clinic space, equipment, or administrative employees. Also, telehealth sessions are often reimbursable by insurance companies. However, it’s essential to research telehealth insurance reimbursement rates to ensure patients can afford their sessions.

Additionally, telehealth allows clients to meet with counselors outside their local area, which can help them save on travel expenses. This can be especially helpful for those who live in rural areas, where access to mental health services may be limited. However, the lack of physical presence can make reading facial expressions and body language onscreen easier. This can be a problem for some patients who need to feel connected to their therapist.

Privacy

One of the main concerns with telehealth counseling is privacy. Some patients may not feel comfortable going to a counselor’s office or sitting in a waiting room, especially if they have a strong sense of stigma around mental health issues.

Those concerns can be addressed with a telehealth appointment in the client’s home, where they are already comfortable and can relax without the added stress of being around strangers or driving. In addition, clients can avoid having their information stolen in an electronic hack that could compromise their private health information.

Having a therapist licensed in multiple states can also help with this issue by enabling a patient to connect with an available counselor even if the counselor is not nearby. Additionally, many insurance carriers offer telehealth counseling benefits that are the same as in-person visits.

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