Over one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the public health crisis has severely and adversely affected many people’s mental health across the world. In late July 2020, nearly 40% of American adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use1. Of this population, 31% reported worsening anxiety or depression symptoms, 13% started or increased substance use, 26% had more stress-related symptoms, and 11% reported serious thoughts of suicide1. According to Joshua Gordon, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, this number has nearly doubled from typical incidence rates before the pandemic2.
While most of these individuals are expected to recover, the increasing number of people affected by mental health and substance use disorders underscores the need to expand and improve care delivery. Other sections of the affected population, such as those with a history of mental illness, poor social support, financial difficulties, or food and housing instability, are at the most significant risk of developing chronic mental health disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to this public health crisis2.
To shift public awareness to a call to action in an effort to aid those in need, the first Mental Health Action Day takes place on May 20, 20213. On that day, a coalition of nonprofits, brands, and influential leaders will share steps that people can take to improve mental health outcomes for themselves or their loved ones. Actions include finding a therapist, reaching out to friends, joining a support program, and researching resources. This event recognizes the need for all of us to take action to support the mental health needs of ourselves and our loved ones at a time when we all need it most.
Mental health support is an invaluable resource that must be made easily accessible within the community. This improved access to resources and services to improve mental health outcomes will require connecting to and maintaining relationships with those who require care most. While COVID-19 has imposed challenges for many when it comes to getting the help they need in-person, the expanded use and improvement of telehealth technology is well-positioned to bridge the gap. Owl Insights is leading this effort by delivering the data and technology necessary to ensure that care provided virtually offers the same level of quality as in-person care, meaning that care can be delivered to those who need it, right where they are.
The Owl Insights platform equips providers with actionable data required to triage patients, direct them to the proper level of care, and then monitor treatment impact to ensure that it is appropriate and effective. Through virtual care, providers can expand access to individuals who may have not previously felt comfortable seeking help because of the stigma of certain conditions, and patients in rural areas can now access mental health providers that were once out of reach.
Owl Insights allows behavioral health providers to analyze and measure mental health outcomes to improve clinical confidence and deliver improved care. By seamlessly integrating into clinical practice, providers can implement measurement-based care strategies to ensure that treatments are working and improve time to remission. Patients benefit from higher levels of engagement in their mental health journey, while providers gain enhanced communication with their patients.
Allowing mental health providers to deliver remote care efficiently means that patients can receive care where they are–creating patient-centered behavioral health. Reducing barriers to care through telehealth will transform mental healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, and address the needs of communities more effectively.
As a community, this is the forward movement we must take to support those who need it most.