The holidays can be a stressful time for many. In fact, 64% of respondents to a NAMI survey said their mental health worsened around the holidays.1 Another survey found that stress levels are rising rapidly for many Americans. A staggering 87% of the survey respondents said the rising costs of day-to-day necessities (e.g., groceries, gas, electricity, etc.) are major stressors for them and 65% revealed they were stressed about money and the economy.2 As inflation worsens and costs continue to rise, gift giving, groceries for holiday events or travel expenses to see family around the holidays exacerbates stress.
But virtual care can help. As a digital-first solution, it removes the stressors of seeking in-person care around the holidays such as cost, finding a doctor, travel, taking time off work and more. Virtual care can support employees struggling with their mental health during the holiday season.
Here are the ways virtual care can provide support for stress:
Quick Appointment Turnaround: With virtual care, employees can schedule appointments 24/7 and visit with a primary care physician (PCP) or virtual counselor in less than 4 days (on average). Currently, the national wait time to see a psychologist is 6 weeks and the wait time to see a PCP is more than 3 weeks.3,4 Virtual care significantly reduces the time to see a doctor or counselor and gets employees help where and when they need it. Employees can schedule their appointments at a time that works best for them to work around a hectic holiday schedule.
Access: Along with shortening the wait time to see a counselor, virtual mental health makes support easily accessible. There is a worsening shortage of mental health providers in the US.5 But with virtual care, employees can visit with a virtual doctor or counselor in the comfort and safety of a space of their choosing via app, website or phone call. 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. If traveling this holiday season, employees do not have to worry about missing appointments or not having access to a doctor as sessions are completely virtual.
Cost: Cost is a big deterrent for seeking support for stress. Appointments range from $100 to $200 per visit. And, to receive the best results, a patient must continually visit a doctor over many weeks, months or years. As mentioned above, expenses are a major stressor and should not inhibit an employee from seeking mental health support. With virtual care, employees can access quality, cost-free mental health support 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 or travel can prevent a person from seeking care. Since virtual care is virtual-first and appointments take place via app, website or over the phone, patients don’t have to skip appointments due to personal barriers.
Virtual Primary Care for Mental Health Support: Virtual primary care doctors can diagnose depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions through virtual screenings (i.e., PHQ-9 or GAD-7), as well as review medical and family history with patients. Doctors can also prescribe medications that are safe and effective, such as SSRIs or SNRIs. Prescriptions are sent to the member's choice of pharmacy immediately following appointments and detailed follow-ups letters include patients' treatment plans, educational materials and in-person referrals when needed. 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 virtual doctors support these dualities.
First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Primary Care & Virtual Mental Health
With Virtual Primary Care and Virtual Mental Health from First Stop Health, members who are caregivers have access to FSH virtual doctors for prescription management and counselors for short-term, solution-focused counseling 24/7. Appointments take place virtually from the comfort and safety of whatever space they prefer, and it is little-to-no cost to use. Personal barriers are removed so members can prioritize their health and still support their loved ones.