A study conducted by researchers at the Rand Corporation and published in JAMA Health Forum shows that the use of telehealth services increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increase in the number of persons receiving treatment for prevalent mental health issues. A study by a non-profit research group found that after the public health emergency was declared, there was a more than fifty percent decrease in the use of in-person assistance for mental health issues such depression, anxiety, bipolar, adjustment, and post-traumatic stress disorders. However, after the national proclamation, there was a significant uptick in telehealth services of up to twenty times. Research conducted during the COVOID-19 pandemic has illustrated a significant surge mental health including anxiety and depressive orders, during the lockdown periods. It is highly likely that individuals experienced psychological difficulties as a result of the following threats to their wellbeing:
- lower levels of social interaction
- less opportunity to carry out physical activity.
- threats to work and a lack of financial security.
- a higher risk of mortality
Through the pandemic, many mental health services providers shifted their business model by offering virtual healthcare appointments, and both public and private insurance expanded coverage for that therapy. The study is the first to demonstrate that the growth of telehealth more than made up for the reduction in in-person therapy, according to the Rand researchers, despite increased usage of telemedicine mental health services during this period. According to the study’s findings, telehealth services were used more frequently by women than males for anxiety disorders and less frequently for bipolar disorder. Patients over the age of forty-six received less services than younger ones, and those living in rural regions were shown to be less likely to use telehealth. The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked at claims information for employer-sponsored insurance plans for around 200 businesses across all 50 states from benefits manager Castlight Health.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, telehealth usage is still very high. There is still discussion to be had for the level’s telehealth should be utilized moving forward, as the COVID-19 public health emergency comes to a close. Though it is imperative that some care is delivered in person, between a clinician and their patient, there are many instances where remote healthcare appointments are appropriate and even beneficial.