When it comes to mental health, many people don’t know where to start to get the support and care they need. Mental Health America reports that “over half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults in the U.S. who are going untreated.”1 Cost, stigmatization and access equity are the biggest barriers to seeking care.2
With mental health concerns growing, employers are stepping up to provide workers with the support they need. More than two-thirds of large employer respondents to a Business Group on Health study said they already provide access to online mental health support resources such as apps, videos and articles.3
One of the new resources uses virtual care, where employees connect with remote, talk-based therapy not unlike what they would receive in-person at a licensed therapist’s office. The virtual mental health approach has become more common – especially during the pandemic when behavioral health concerns drove some of the largest increases in telemedicine visits.
So, how do virtual mental health visits work? Here are some best practices when looking for a virtual service to help employees get the mental health support they need.
Patients initiate visits using mobile app, website or with a call. This process should take 1-2 minutes to complete.
A mental health intake specialist connects with the patients to assess concerns after a visit is requested.
Patients should be able to choose a mental health counselor they feel most comfortable with based on race, age or gender.
Mental health counselors should be available nationwide to help patients with specific needs, including anxiety, stress, depression, grief, work and family concerns, substance use, and more.
Counselors should be mental health professionals who hold master’s-level degree or above in counseling, social work, psychology or related mental health professions.
Visits should be available in English, Spanish and other languages to care for all populations.
Visits with an appropriate licensed mental health counselor who specializes in members’ needs are scheduled.
Patients should be able to meet with a counselor in as little as 3 days after a visit is requested compared to waiting weeks for an in-person visit.4
Visits occur via phone or video and there should be no pre-defined restrictions on the number of appointments the patient may need.
The virtual mental health experience and all visits should cost the patient $0.
If patients experience more acute or longer-term mental health concerns, counselors can refer them to mental health specialists in their health plan network – where out-of-pocket costs could apply.