According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mary Alvord, a psychologist in Chevy Chase, Md., has trained around 10,000 mental health providers on how best to deliver treatment online via webinars for the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and other organizations. And companies that solely do digital mental health say they are seeing increased demand.
Talkspace, which connects users to therapists via video and text, says it has seen a 65% rise in demand. As the pandemic grinds on, the company is seeing people’s concerns change: Initially, many users had intense anxiety about the virus and their and their loved ones’ health, says Neil Leibowitz, the company’s chief medical officer. That has shifted to worries about finances. More recently, relationship issues have come to the fore. “People aren’t used to spending so much time together,” Dr. Leibowitz says.
If you’re encouraging employees to seek virtual help, here are some tips for making Tele-Therapy work according to the Wall Street Journal article:
- Check with your insurance provider to make sure your particular treatment is covered. While many rules have been loosened, there are still some restrictions.
- Even though you may be able to see a provider located in another state, consider finding someone closer to home. That way there won’t be hiccups if the rules change or you want to switch to in-person treatment later.
- Have a backup plan (such as having your therapist call you on your cellphone) in case your internet connection drops or your picture constantly freezes.
- Ask your therapist to use a secure platform (such as Zoom for Healthcare) and avoid connecting to your session via public Wi-Fi.
- Find a private space so you can speak freely without being overheard or interrupted. Your car or a closet can do in a pinch.
- Treat the session like an in-person visit. That means no pajamas, drinking alcohol, or snacking. (Yes, therapists say this happens.)
- Take a few minutes to sit quietly and prepare for your session. Going right from a work meeting to therapy can be jarring.
Identifying variations in virtual visit/telehealth utilization by generation, region and profession may better enable employers to offer plan designs and wellness and care programs to encourage use of this timesaving and cost-effective care option, according to a study by Health Action Council.
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