Oct, 2020 - By CMI
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic Pari Baker, a therapist and clinical social worker in rural Bath County, Virginia, working in an Allegheny Mountains hospital planned to switch to seeing her clients over video call in April. However, she wasn’t sure how it would go as she had never worked that way with clients before.
Once she started using telehealth service for seeing her clients she realized that factors such as transportation and bad weather were no longer a problem and also there was a drop in no-show rates for appointments. Along with this she also got new clients nearby areas who have historically been under treatment by mental health care service providers.
Moreover, her long-standing clients would relax a bit more in their comfort zones and it was really good to see how teletherapy service has benefited people from being in their own space, says Baker. Thus, telehealth is much more confidential and comfortable and also eliminates the worried of leaving office and seeing someone they knew in the waiting hall. Because of such comfort and advantage offered by teletherapy, now she doesn't want to imagine going back as it would be really devastating and a disservice to the people who are comfortable and enjoying such service.
The tool to conduct remote mental health care service existed for years. But there was an extreme financial disadvantage for providers and clients to use these services as Medicare didn’t pay for most of the teletherapy services and private Medicaid and insurance involved high risk. For instance, some plans paid for it, and others paid at less rate than in-person sessions, which ultimately forced the mental health counselor to take a pay cut or charge their clients more. However, with the onset of the pandemic, the government programs and insurers planned to pay full for teletherapy to many therapists. Also, with teletherapy other issues such as licensing across the different cities for seeing clients have been disappeared and many therapists can offer teletherapy, for the time being without any hassle. Moreover, Katie Gordon, a North Dakota-based psychologist says that it has automatically increased the number of people who are able to be seen and it would be cruel to return back to the way things were before pandemic.
Hence, this pandemic has offered mental health care a much-needed boost into the 21st century. Moreover, it is a chance to reflect not on how the world is evolving in response to the current situation but also how to adapt the changes.
No doubt, teletherapy has many advantages but it also has few limitations. For example, in-person sessions are really valuable for people who do not feel comfortable and safe in their home environment. Additionally, people with domestic abuse may not be able to speak openly due to a lack of privacy at their home. Though telehealth services providers have increased access to care, still 21 million Americans do not have access to proper broadband internet.