The Pandemic Is Also a Mental Health Crisis: How Your Practice Can Adapt
Posted by Paolo Gabriel Demillo
Beyond the immediate health concerns, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a spread of mental health risk factors. The extended periods of isolation, fear, and economic uncertainty have added to the mental health crisis that hounded the nation even before the pandemic hit. It’s now up to mental health professionals to rise to the occasion.
The number of people who need help continues to surge. That’s why optimizing your practice is crucial in addressing the mental health consequences of the pandemic.
Rising Mental Health Cases Point to Dire Results
Ever since the start of the pandemic, a record-breaking 57.3 million Americans have lost their jobs. It’s not surprising that the risk of depression among working Americans has also swelled an alarming 102% since February, according to a Mental Health Index study published this month.
What’s even more frightening is what these numbers could lead to. A study that examined the rise of suicide cases during the 2007 Great Recession found a “strong positive association between unemployment rates and total suicide rates over time within states.”
That is why the role of mental health practices during and after the COVID-19 pandemic is so vital. With an expected increase in mental health cases, your practice should be equipped to handle the immense responsibility that comes with the growing need.
Unconventional Times Call for an Unconventional Approach
A lasting mental health crisis is likely to challenge the world for years to come. Given the unprecedented scale and urgency, it’s crucial to identify and adopt new ways to tackle it.
Over the past decade, the collaborative care model has shown promise. But according to psychiatry experts, it could now make a distinct difference. The model aims to address the limitations of traditional care, where patients who have both medical and mental health problems receive treatment in separate clinical settings at different times. Several studies have shown that integrating medical and mental health care in the primary care setting tends to improve depression outcomes.
A collaborative approach to treating mental health problems makes it easier for patients to access quality, affordable mental health care. As highlighted by the American Psychiatric Association, a value-based reimbursement model, it also allows you to be paid based on the quality of care and clinical outcomes rather than the volume of patients.
Identify and Shift Your Focus Towards the Vulnerable
While these are hard times for everyone, studies and research show that some have it worse than others. Identifying who among the population is bearing the brunt of the pandemic will give mental health professionals a better chance of providing services and support.
According to a recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, young adults (18-25 years old) reported the highest levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even more worrisome, 25.5% of them said they had considered committing suicide in the past 30 days.
While experts don’t find it unusual for young adults to be more anxious than other age groups, especially during these shaky times, addressing that anxiety is still urgent.
COVID-19 survivors aren’t entirely out of the woods yet. Some studies show that people hospitalized due to COVID-19 have a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems. It’s especially true for those who exhibited severe coronavirus infections.
Frontline Health Workers
With a more hectic workload and increased sources of anxiety and stress, frontline healthcare workers are more susceptible to depression due to the pandemic. If left untreated, these could have dire consequences on the quality of care and clinical outcomes.
Learn From the Pandemic, Think Ahead and Be Prepared
Stress from the pandemic has unfortunately taken its toll on people across the country. That means that mental health practices like yours play a crucial role in preventing and treating another health crisis. If you don’t act with urgency in optimizing your practice now, you could be overwhelmed with the anticipated increase in demand for mental health services.
Dedicated tools and software designed for mental health practices can go a long way towards accomplishing those goals. Whether it is streamlining tasks or giving your practice a more robust set of options, such as Telehealth and patient portals, companies like Meditab exist to make things easier for medical practices.
See the improvements IMS, an EHR with specially designed mental health modules, can bring to your practice today.