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Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Services Through Telehealth

As we’ve learned, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted many people’s mental health, which intensified the need for more behavioral health services across the country. Mental health is defined as an overall state of well-being that includes biology, emotional health, and habits while behavioral health examines how habits impact a person’s overall physical and mental well-being.

While the pandemic created mental health challenges for many people, it also spurred advancement in health care services in America. Behavioral telehealth is one example. It is a growing area of care that is helping to deliver greater access to mental health care for patients across the country, including those in rural and underserved communities.

Here are three innovative ways to use behavioral telehealth services that patients can access safely, privately, and conveniently from home.

Individual Teletherapy

Individual, one-on-one teletherapy is the most common form of telebehavioral health and may be able to be performed through video or audio-only telehealth services. It can offer privacy and convenience, including reduced travel and disruption to daily activities like work and childcare, in addition to easing the stigma of going in-person to a clinic or office. You can access individual teletherapy in multiple ways:

  • Virtual Talk Therapy helps address both your emotional and psychological concerns.
  • Telepsychiatry is where you can get prescriptions and manage your medications.
  • Online Apps can help with tracking and monitoring your mood.
  • Text Therapy allows you to communicate with a health care professional at any time with relative anonymity.

Group Teletherapy                                                

Group teletherapy involves a few people who meet with one or more therapists remotely. This effective and affordable alternative to individual therapy offers the added benefits of community support, reduced feelings of isolation, and new perspectives. There are several options for group teletherapy:

  • Live Talk Therapy is where you can virtually interact with several other individuals at the same time via video or phone calls.
  • Asynchronous Communication is when individuals elect to interact by group chat or email. You can share your thoughts and respond to other group members at your convenience.
  • Online Applications is the creation of a group of people who interact through social media or chat rooms, in real-time or asynchronously. Sessions typically do not involve a clinical provider and are not covered by insurance, but it may be helpful if you prefer anonymity.

Substance Use Disorder Telehealth Treatment

When used in combination with other treatment methods, behavioral telehealth interventions can be part of a co-occurring, integrated approach to treating substance use disorders. You can get care from your home instead of a public clinic, have access to providers who understand substance use disorder, and choose to continue care with your regular individual or group therapist or provider while receiving treatment. Speaking with a health care provider while at home can also allow your provider to see how you are managing treatment in your home environment.

Telehealth.HHS.gov has patient resources to help you learn more about what behavioral telehealth services are available, find out how to access telebehavioral health services and determine associated costs, so you can use telehealth to manage your health care needs effectively.