Tele-Mental Health…answer to an epidemic!

Tele-Mental Health…answer to an epidemic!

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There is a worldwide epidemic of mental and behavioral health problems which is growing every day. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that globally mental health is the second leading cause of disease burden, and will overtake heart disease as the number one cause by 2030. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 50% of Americans will have at least one mental health issue in their lifetime. Of course the great majority of these cases are not psychosis, bipolar disorder, or Schizophrenia. The leading culprits are depression and anxiety, with which most in our communities continues to function, but not function well.

Mental health services are dispensed by a diverse group of professionals including Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, and Family & Marriage Therapists. There are less than half of the needed number of practitioners to tackle this epidemic of mental health problems in our communities. Of course this shortage is magnified in smaller communities and rural areas where we usually have only 25% of the needed professionals. This significant undersupply has some serious consequences like drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, and the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety, etc. With an average wait time of over 2 months for an appointment, it is easy to see why most people who suffer from these conditions are not being served properly.

One of the most effective treatments for behavioral and mental health issues is talk-therapy with a qualified professional. The biggest problem is the lack of access in most communities, but there is also the problem of cost for these visits, which are most effective when they are performed regularly over a prescribed course. This raises additional barriers beyond the financial cost, such as the burdens of time, travel, and hesitation due to social stigma associated with mental health counseling.

The initial hurdle of finding a professional, making an appointment, rearranging life’s priorities to make it to the appointment, and having to pay usually over $100 for the visit is enough to stop many people from seeking care. Since mental health visits usually only consist of a conversation, they can just as easily be performed via a Tele-Mental Health platform which allows the patient to connect with a specialist in the privacy of their home, car, or location of choice. The Tele-mental health services available to all WoW Care Plan members are HIPAA compliant and confidential so anyone can speak with a counselor, psychiatrist, or therapist. The WoW Care Plan mental health services are 50-min online sessions with a cost of $20 per session.

As we work to improve our communities and tackle healthcare problems, we have to do better to make mental health treatment a priority. The Tele-mental health services through the WoW Care Plan are a logical way to bring convenience, privacy, cost effectiveness, and high quality care. Let’s remove barriers to mental health treatment!

Next, we will discuss the murky world of medication pricing and a common sense solution for our communities, because visits with medical professionals aren’t going to be effective if we are unable to obtain the necessary prescribed medications.

About Author

Dr. Jawad is a practicing physician with extensive administrative experience, who has firsthand knowledge of running a medical practice and working in employed models. WoW Health aligns incentives for the healthcare ecosystem so all stakeholders benefit from transparent and direct relationship between patients and medical service providers.