Is virtual healthcare the solution to our mental health needs during the pandemic?
Today is Depression Screening Day, an excellent time to remind everyone that depression is one of the world’s most common mental illnesses.
There’s a deep-seated stigma around the concept. Many imagine one prone to dramatics or self-harm when faced with the word “depression” and believe that one just has to “look on the bright side” to find a cure. This worldview posits that anyone who refuses to do so just isn’t trying hard enough.
The truth is that depression is a combination of factors, both genetic and situational, and the reason it’s depression instead of simple sadness comes down to frequency and disruptiveness. One difficult day may not indicate depression, but a string of them bears examining; it comes as no surprise, then, that most people found the past two years have been more difficult than not.
In 2020 alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 5% of adults worldwide suffered from some form of substance abuse or depressive disorder, which rose to 13% in early 2021. Additionally, the vast number of deaths, tense political climate, and uncertainty of finding work during the pandemic have pressured even the most well-adjusted individuals to the point of breakdown.
Recovery is possible both physically and mentally, but it takes time, resources, and dedication to get there; on top of that, medical resources focus primarily on dealing with the pandemic.
However, we still shouldn’t neglect our mental health. A well-adjusted, realistic outlook can contribute to easier recovery from infection; additionally, even if one never contracts the virus, a stable frame of mind is essential to navigating one’s daily hurdles during the pandemic. Thus, we come to the importance of depression screening.
The good news is that many mental health professionals have made virtual solutions available. Psychiatrists still can’t host remote appointments or send electronic prescriptions, but they can now send material such as mental health evaluation forms and protected health information through email.
This practice significantly reduces time spent in a crowded receptionist’s office and minimizes unneeded face-to-face meetings with mental health professionals; only once the psychiatrist receives the evaluation material do face-to-face meetings become necessary. Thus, one saves time and money while protecting oneself and others from infection.
Virtual mental healthcare also provides the advantage of remote availability; a psychiatrist in one state can aid a client in another as long as they have a license in their client’s location, whether to vouch for care to a different practitioner or provide instruction to the client.
This Depression Screening Day is markedly different from perhaps all others before it because of this historic pandemic, but one thing stays the same: Our mental health matters, and we should take steps to care for it. Whether that means depression needs to be better acknowledged or virtual mental healthcare needs to become more mainstream, we owe ourselves and others the benefit of sound mental health.
Are you a mental health practitioner in need of virtual management staff? Phoenix Virtual Solutions can help; talk to one of our representatives today!