Source: The Healthcare Technology Report
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about numerous challenges, including disruptions to mental health care delivery. However, a recent study published in the magazine Counseling & Development by the American Counseling Association offers encouraging insights. The research, led by Yusen Zhai, assistant professor of counseling and community counseling clinic director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, reveals that pandemic telehealth did not hinder mental health service seekers. Instead, it emerged as a feasible and effective option, especially for clients facing transportation limitations or residing in areas with few mental health specialists nearby.
During the pandemic, lockdowns made it challenging for counselors to meet clients in person, prompting insurance companies to expand telehealth coverage. To assess its impact on counseling intentions, Zhai and his colleagues conducted a comprehensive evaluation of over 52,000 U.S. university and college students between September 2018 and June 2020. The participants provided anonymized data, were evaluated for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, and also shared information about their mental health history and beliefs.
The study’s findings were remarkable. Despite concerns about technology infrastructure or reservations regarding phone or online therapy, telehealth did not deter individuals from seeking counseling services. This discovery validates the importance of telehealth counseling insurance coverage policies, which are crucial as society navigates the post-pandemic environment and ponders the future of healthcare delivery.
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