COVID-19 brings new challenges; new tools respond
Each May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness marks Mental Health Awareness Month. The annual awareness campaign seeks to build awareness of the millions of Americans living with mental illness and how society can provide the support and quality care they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Awareness is more important than ever this spring, as providers continue to assess the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their patients’ mental well-being. Extended lockdowns and restrictions on social gatherings have exacerbated mental health issues for many.
At the same time, however, there have never been so many powerful healthcare IT tools that can help providers effectively address mental health.
Using telehealth to stay in closer touch
Dr. Courtney C. Bochmann, D.O., of Iowa’s Waverly Health Center, for example, notes how useful healow TeleVisits™ have been for keeping in touch with patients. Those with mental health issues, he notes, can be reluctant to make a physical visit to their provider and, without a telehealth option, might have simply gone without the care they need.
“It’s been a good piece for us for doing medication follow-ups,” Dr. Bochmann said, “especially with people who are suffering from depression or anxiety patients who have had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”
The value of behavioral health, care planning
In addition to a powerful telehealth tool, eClinicalWorks offers providers a comprehensive solution to address their patients’ behavioral health needs. Our care planning model allows practices to:
- Manage program enrollment and program-specific care team assignments
- Document intake questionnaires and other assessments before creating treatment plans
- Allow users to define patient-specific problems, goals, objectives, and interventions
- Help users track progress toward goals
- Manage scheduling and documentation of group visits
Resources when immediate help is needed
As powerful as healthcare IT tools can be, there is often no substitute for the caring voice of another human being, particularly one training to listen and assist those having a mental health crisis.
The overriding goal of National Mental Health Awareness Month is to help everyone understand the importance of talking about mental health, recognizing those who are in need of help, and connecting individuals to resources that can help them.
Anyone with a mental health issue may turn first to their primary care provider for a referral to expert mental health care.
In addition, there are a variety of resources available to individuals in crisis, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.