More than 40 million US adults have an anxiety disorder – that's almost 20% of the population.1 The number of those with anxiety has increased by 25% due to the COVID-19 pandemic and those with existing anxiety have experienced worsening symptoms.2 The state of mental health in the US has quickly become a concern for employers and shifting focus to better employee mental health programs is now a top priority.
Employers have the opportunity to support their workforce with virtual care. Stress-free, convenient access to virtual care for anxiety, depression, grief and other mental health concerns can make a difference when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, as well as encouraging a healthier workforce.
Virtual primary care complemented with virtual mental health provides employees with whole-person care. Primary care doctors provide the most care for mental health concerns and prescription management.3 Medication therapy combined with counseling is an important treatment strategy for those struggling with anxiety. Virtual primary care can provide medication therapy in many mental health situations while virtual mental health can provide counseling for dual therapy, leading to better whole-person health guidance.
Here are the ways virtual care can support the treatment of anxiety:
- Quick Appointment Turnaround: Scheduling appointments with virtual counselors should be available 24/7 with appointments routinely available in 3 days. Currently, the national wait time to see a psychologist is 6 weeks and in a recent survey, 65% of psychologists shared they are not taking new patients.4 Wait times to see a PCP (primary care physician) are no better at 24 days.5 Virtual care drastically reduces the wait time to see a doctor or counselor, supporting and treating patients' anxiety when they need it most.
- Access: Along with shortening the wait time to see a counselor, virtual mental health improves access equity. Available via app, website or phone, patients can visit with a FSH virtual doctor or counselor in the comfort and safety of a space of their choosing. 77% of counties in the US have a severe shortage of mental health providers and it’s expected to worsen post-pandemic.6 There are no geographic limitations with virtual primary care or virtual mental health, expanding access to meaningful mental health support. Plus, there are no pre-defined restrictions on the number of visits, allowing patients to see their doctor or counselor as many times as they need.
- Cost: The average costs for psychiatry or therapy visits range from $100 to more than $200. To receive the best results, a patient must continually visit a doctor over many weeks, months or years. Cost is a major deterrent for seeking care for anxiety. With virtual care, patients can access quality, cost-free care for themselves or family members.
- Removing Barriers: Aside from cost and access being two of the biggest barriers to care, there are other personal deterrents to consider. Taking time off work, travel and childcare can prevent a person from seeking care. Since virtual care is digital and appointments take place via app, website or over the phone, patients don’t have to skip appointments due to personal inconveniences.
- Whole-Person Health Guidance: With virtual primary care, doctors guide members through the right treatment plans for their mental health condition. Mental health and physical health are intricately interwoven and doctor and counselor guidance supports these dualities.
First Stop Health Virtual Primary Care & Virtual Mental Health
With Virtual Primary Care and Virtual Mental Health from First Stop Health, members have access to FSH virtual doctors for prescription management and short-term, solution-focused counseling 24/7. They are matched with a doctor or counselor that best supports their needs and can meet with them virtually from the comfort and safety of whatever space they prefer. First Stop Health uses custom engagement techniques to encourage utilization and remove stigma. This service is free for members and their families to use, and completely confidential.