Is Telepsychiatry Here to Stay?

Over the past year, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way we live and work. Isolation, economic uncertainty, and extraordinary changes to regular routines have placed added stress on people. We have seen a rise in pandemic-related depression and anxiety cases. For many, access to mental health care has been incredibly important over the past twelve months.

Across the country, psychiatric professionals closed their offices for in-person visits in the name of social distancing. To continue providing health care services in the safest and most effective manner possible, many psychiatrists turned to telepsychiatry.

What did Psychiatric Care Look Like During a Pandemic?

Telepsychiatry was initially viewed as less than preferable but necessary by psychiatric professionals and patients alike. Could psychiatric professionals continue to provide the same level of care without the benefit of face-to-face communication? Would patients adapt well to a virtual environment?

As it turns out, telepsychiatry exceeded expectations and provided some key benefits that are not available to in-person sessions. Telepsychiatry has reduced the barrier to treatment for many in the form of time and travel. Being able to simply connect to a mental health care professional without even leaving the home made more patients follow through with their appointments and receive the care they need.

Psychiatric professionals also noticed that patients tend to be more open to sharing on video sessions than they had been in person. One theory is that because people are in their homes, an environment in which they feel most comfortable and in control.

The ability to continue seeing patients virtually was a blessing for many at a time when they needed it most. Social distancing, isolation, and economic anxiety has increased the overall stress level. The rise in depression, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse during the pandemic has been well-documented. For many people, the ability to access safe and reliable psychiatric care has been essential.

So What’s Next?

As vaccines are being distributed and administered in astonishing numbers every day, we will soon return to life without social distancing.

So, the question for psychiatric professionals and patients is what does the future look like?

Some psychiatric professionals are also opening their offices to in-person visits while still providing telepsychiatry as an option. After an entire year of experiencing the effectiveness of telepsychiatry, we expect this form of psychiatric care to become a new normal.

The adaption of virtual psychiatric care has already proved beneficial outside of the pandemic. Our practice, Mynd Works Psychiatry is based in Austin, TX. During the winter storm this February that shut down greater parts of the state for a week, we were able to continue seeing patients through telepsychiatry even though patients weren’t even able to leave their house. This was an unforeseen benefit of setting up a system for telepsychiatry but one that should not be overlooked. We expect telepsychiatry to remain the most common mode of psychiatric care for the foreseeable future as long as insurance continues to cover the costs.

Learn more about telepsychiatry on our blog "Why You Should Choose Telepsychiatry in a Pandemic“.

*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.